Assemblywoman Galef’s Bill to Add Siblings to the Definition of Family Member in Relation to Paid Family Leave Signed by Governor Hochul

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

Legislation, A.6098A/S.2928A, introduced by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator Joseph Addabbo was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday. Under the new law, chapter number 550, the siblings of those who are dealing with a serious health condition are provided with Paid Family Leave benefits in order to provide them with care. The new legislation also gives Paid Family Leave benefits to siblings of those deployed abroad on active military service, so these siblings may assist in the households of such military members.

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.

Assemblywoman Galef said "The strong bond siblings share is undeniable. For many individuals siblings may be the only family member available to assist and provide health care in their time of need and it has happened so often during the COVID pandemic. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing this legislation which expands the definition of family to include siblings. New York is a leader again in making sure that those with serious health issues can be cared for by their brothers or sisters without them losing their jobs and their salaries. This is a caring and compassionate addition to NY's Paid Family Leave law."

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.”

The Community Service Society (CSS) said “This is a reform that CSS, alongside our partners in the NY Statewide Paid Leave Coalition, have advocated for years. The addition of siblings to the definition of family members eligible for paid family leave makes the law more inclusive and ensures that it is consistent with the definition of family members covered under the new statewide paid sick leave law, which already includes siblings. The new bill recognizes the fact that New Yorkers, especially those in low-income and immigrant communities, may depend on extended families for care, and helps ensure that workers can take the time they need to care for their siblings without worrying about losing their paychecks.”

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 of $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