In his State of the State address on Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for legal action that would grant state residents 12 weeks of paid family leave to take care of a new child or sick relative.
Sharing his journey of taking care of his late father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the 58-year-old expressed how a push for paid family leave is personal for him and a right that he feels all workers should have.
“Life is such a precious gift and I have kicked myself every day that I didn’t spend more time with my father at the end period,” said Cuomo. “I could have. I’m lucky. I could have taken off work. Could have cut the day in half. I could have spent more time with him. It was my mistake and a mistake I blame myself for everyday.”
Noting that many New Yorkers don’t have the option of taking family leave without their job being threatened, Cuomo is proposing a legislation that will fund paid family leave to residents by taking money out of employee paychecks.
The United States is one of few developed countries that don’t offer some sort of paid maternity and paternity leave. In the state of New York, there is currently a Temporary Disability Insurance program that allows women to take paid time off during their pregnancy period or after the birth of their child, but this policy is not extended to fathers, non-biological mothers, or professionals who need to take time off to care for a sick relative.
Across the country, just 12% of the workforce receives paid family leave according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If New York passes this bill, they will become the fourth state to implement a paid family leave program. Currently, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island already have policies in place to protect workers who need to take care of a sick family member or new-born child.