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Majority opposed to family leave program

Many critics of the state’s effort point to the impact on small businesses

The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Snap Poll opposes New York’s Paid Family Leave program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced the state had adopted regulations implementing New York’s Paid Family Leave program. The regulations outline the responsibilities of employers and insurance carriers. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, Paid Family Leave will provide employees with wage replacement and job protection to help them bond with a child, care for a close relative with a serious health condition, or help relieve family pressures when someone is deployed abroad on active military service, the governor said. Employees are also entitled to be reinstated to their job when their leave ends and to the continuation of their health insurance during their leave.

Private employers must secure Paid Family Leave insurance coverage or self-insure in time to provide coverage on Jan. 1. Paid Family Leave premiums will be funded by employees through payroll deductions, the state said. The regulations address eligibility, coverage, the phase-in schedule for Paid Family Leave and more information on how employees, employers and insurance carriers will interact to pay benefits.

Paid Family Leave provides coverage for: parents during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child; employees caring for a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandchild with a serious health condition; and employees assisting loved ones when a spouse, child, domestic partner  or parent is deployed abroad on active military duty.

The program is mandatory for nearly all private employers. Public employers may opt into the program.

Paid Family Leave is to be phased in over four years. In 2018, employees may take up to eight weeks of paid leave at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage up to 50 percent of the New York State average weekly wage. That increases to 12 weeks of paid leave in 2021 paid at 67 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage up to 67 percent of the New York State average weekly wage.

Roughly 500 participated in this week’s poll which was conducted July 25 and 26.

Do you support or oppose New York’s Paid Family Leave program?

Support: 43%

Oppose: 57%

COMMENTS:

This is truly government math. An employee will contribute $80/year for this coverage and can get paid $130/day and for up to eight weeks of paid leave. What could go wrong? Don’t politicians have calculators? Great idea, poor execution.

—John Cogan, CEO, Vantage Benefits Group Inc.

How long before this is underfunded?

Steve Neelin, Quality Recruiting

This is just another step on the march to socialism. The next step will be the poor can’t afford it so the government (i.e. we taxpayers) will have to cover the cost. When is this country going to wake up about entitlements?

—Hal Gaffin, Fairport

The concept of Paid Family Leave is fine. Many employers have established this benefit in one form or another without being forced to do so. The idea that Big Brother can mandate some “one size fits all” benefit is objectionable. One more reason to leave for greener pastures!

—Tom Shea, Thomas P Shea Agency Inc.

I wonder how it is that the government gets to decide how employees should be compensated. Shouldn’t that be a matter to be decided between the employer and the employee? I also wonder how it is that, in a state that consistently drives businesses to invest elsewhere, that our governor thinks that N.Y. is “Open for Business”?

—John Calia, Fairport

Just more “vote getting” shenanigans that make New York State rival (California) for being the most liberal, welfare state and last place employers would look to do business! How did this country survive all these years without this onerous benefit?

—JA DePaolis, Penfield     

More government burden placed on N.Y.’s businesses. This will lead to scammers abusing the system and in the process hurting small businesses that are short-staffed and cannot operate with long-term absences.

—Jeff Sturtz, A.R. Pierrepont Co.

This is government overreach at its worst. Neither business nor society can afford this and it is not based on realistic expectations on the part of society. Businesses are already being taxed beyond any reasonable expectation and I expect this will cause some businesses to cease to exist!

—Walter Alcorn, CB Craft Brewers

Like landing on the moon, one step. We now join, at least New York , the 140 countries in the world that provide family/maternity leave for their working citizens. Who knows ? Maybe someday we will also join every other civilized nation in the world where the government provides all their citizens health care. Such a feat would also take the total cost of health care off the products and services our businesses sell to the rest of the world, a cost that is a competitive disadvantage.

—Jim Bertolone, retired labor advocate

Another state requirement that will hurt small to medium-size businesses.

—Dave Fister

We have seven employees in our shop. Paid family leave allowing an individual eight weeks will greatly impact my business. In my business there is a dire shortage of adequate employees to hire. My profit margins are very small and I am supposed to continue their health care while they are out. They will have to pay the portion that I pay for it. If they are not working, then I am not making money. The employer has to pay the whole bill annually, so if an employee decides to leave I have already paid that premium. I will have to get reimbursed from the employee. Employees will have to realize that if they change jobs they start from the beginning with their new employer and don’t get any money back from the previous paid premiums. I don’t think this was thought out very well by the Legislature. Rush, rush to prove that Cuomo is actually doing something for the people of the state. If he really wants to do something, he needs to lower taxes for people and businesses!

—Jennifer Apetz

It’s hard not to support this program, but it will be difficult for the many small companies in NYS. If there can be some kind of support from the state that would be a real help and make the program work. NYS is real good at punishing business, especially small businesses, so it would be real smart to help businesses if the state is serious with this program.

—Ken Pamatat, Creative Images Photography

Sounds wonderful, but I believe this new entitlement will be abused (just like workers compensation and Social Security disability). I feel the employee deductions (which is really a new tax)  will not be enough to cover the costs, so deductions will go up and up. Employers will have to over-staff to cover employees “on leave,” which will drive up the cost of everything in N.Y. Cuomo wins because 1.) it will “look” like there are more jobs in N.Y.  2.) more payroll taxes will be collected, 3) liberals love new entitlements.

—George Thomas, Ogden      

Another way the state reduces my disposable income. Another contributor to my employer’s decisions to expand outside New York State.

—Dorver Kendig, Webster    

Another “pay for not working scheme” in compliance with the tenets of socialism. Between unemployment, misused workers comp and disability, the incentive to work becomes lessened.  Comrade Cuomo will next offer up a basic minimum income for all, which requires no work at all. Most importantly, what does a company our size (nine employees) do when an employee takes the leave (up to two months in 2018) and is guaranteed re-employment and health benefits during the leave? In the case of a skilled worker, such as an automotive repair technician, we could lose up to $3,500 per week in revenue! Another very bad progressive moonbeam.

—Art Elting, Palmyra    

Another reason for employers to incorporate out of state or existing ones to leave.

—Ed Rosen, Fairport     

I am 100 percent against this and the Safe Act as well, and 100 percent against Cuomo and his swamp.  I do believe 100 percent in post deployment of the military to assure they return to their last position and salary. I am a supporter of Employers Supporting the Guard and Reserve, ESGR.

—Daniel Mossien, architect     

Just another burden for employers in NYS.  Great way to drive them out.

—Mark Wilson

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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