Commentary: Business Council Short-Sighted on Paid Family Leave

by Michael Burgess
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The position of the New York State Business Council that paid family leave is a burden on business is an unfortunate reaction that does not address the needs of workers as family members and caregivers.  There are many businesses in this state that have recognized that a progressive workplace is family friendly.  A large number offer maternity and paternity leave to care for newborns.
It is important also to provide support to the many middle age employees caring for seriously ill family members, primarily parents and older relatives.  Businesses know quite well that they already face this situation because family caregiving responsibilities cause employees to regularly take unexpected absences.
This caregiving is already happening with employees having to drop everything at work  when a health care emergency happens, such as when a parent has a stroke.  Others have to juggle their work responsibilities with taking a parent or family member to numerous doctor appointments or make arrangements to provide home care at times when other help is not available.
Many businesses are sympathetic and supportive to employees and give them flexibility to take sick time off, work different hours or make other adjustments short of paid family leave.
If paid time off is needed for several weeks and the employer won’t allow that, then the employee faces only two other options:  either quit the job to take care of the loved one – which most can’t afford to do or want to do – or face the on-going stress of working a job while being distracted and having to take a lot of unplanned emergency time off.
Paid family leave gives the employee an option that reduces the stress, financial and emotional toll of caring for family members at a critical time, especially at the end of life.

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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