At UncommonGoods in Brooklyn, New York, workers bringing home a new child or facing challenges caring for a sick loved one don't need to make tough decisions in choosing work over family. The small business, which is an online and catalog retailer of unique products, with some 200 employees, has a paid family leave policy in place, offering up to eight weeks of paid time off per year.
CEO David Bolotsky says the policy isn't just good for workers — it's good for his bottom line.
"It's important because families are important, and being able to care for loved ones is essential," Bolotsky said. "Providing our workers with the ability to balance their personal needs with their work requirements, we think, is in our business interest as well."
Come Jan. 1, all businesses in the state will have policies that look much like what workers have access to at UncommonGoods, as New York implements what's being hailed as one of the most progressive paid family leave policies in the nation.
The program will be phased in over the next four years, allowing up to 12 weeks of paid time off by 2021 for a new child. The new measures apply to adopted or foster children, as well as ill family members, including children, in-laws and domestic partners. Those who are experiencing family pressures when someone is called to active military service also qualify.
The payment of benefits is funded through a payroll deduction, so the burden is on workers and not employers to cover costs.
What's more, all businesses in the state, regardless of size, will have to comply. This is different than the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers at businesses with 50 or more full-time workers — which advocates say is key.