Assemblywoman Galef’s Bill to Add Siblings to the Definition of Family Member in Relation to Paid Family Leave Passed by Legislature

Provides siblings job-protected, paid time off under certain circumstances

Legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Joseph Addabbo was finalized today in the New York State Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Under the new bill (A6098A/S2928A), those who care for their siblings who are dealing with a serious health condition will be provided Paid Family Leave benefits. The new legislation also provides for those assisting in households where their sibling has been deployed abroad on active military service to receive Paid Family Leave benefits.

Prior to this legislation, New York’s Paid Family Leave did not include “sibling” in the definition of “family member.” Therefore, individuals who cared for their siblings with serious health conditions or stepped in to assist the household of their sibling’s family when that sibling was deployed abroad were not provided with job protection and paid time off under the law. The failure of “family member” to be defined as “sibling” has forced many to decide between earning an income or caring for their loved ones.

 “The strong bond siblings share is undeniable,” said Assemblywoman Galef. “For many single individuals a sibling may be the only family member available to assist and provide care in their time of need. Therefore, it is imperative that we add “sibling” to the definition of “family member” for the purpose of Paid Family Leave.”

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said "If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we must recognize the needs of all individuals, especially during life's most challenging periods. Many siblings share a strong bond, and for some single individuals, a sibling may be the only surviving family member that they have. Therefore, adding ‘sibling’ to the definition of ‘family member’ for the purpose of Paid Family Leave is simply common sense. I'm thankful my Senate colleagues and Assemblywoman Galef helped get this important bill approved before the end of the legislative session."

The original Paid Family Leave Act was passed four years ago. In the first year the Paid Family Leave Act took effect in 2018, approximately 39,000 employees took an average of 21 days of paid family leave to care for a loved one, though twelve weeks are permitted for Paid Family Leave. There is no cost to employers because Paid Family Leave is fully funded by employees by a small payroll deduction. The 2021 payroll contribution is currently 0.511 percent of an employee’s gross wages each pay period, which is capped to an annual maximum $385.34. The employee that is requesting Paid Family Leave must provide a thirty-day notice to their employer and a claim form is sent to the insurance company for reimbursement of the partial salary. An eligible employee can receive 67 percent of their average weekly wage.