Group of state senators call for increase in maternity leave pay

Posted at: 12/17/2013 5:15 PM
Updated at: 12/19/2013 7:55 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

A group of state senators have a number of proposals--all aimed at saving taxpayer money. The plan calls for the state to fully fund daycare subsidies for struggling families.

The plan also calls for the state to fully fund daycare subsidies for struggling families and give parents and students the option to lock in their tuition rates at colleges across the state.

The new proposal from the group of independent Democrats in the State Senate also wants to create a new system where new moms would get up to $450 per week during maternity leave.

That's a huge increase. Right now, some mothers on leave in New York get about $170 per week for six weeks.

The new plan sounds good, but how do you pay for that?

First of all -- maternity is only $170 per week because that's what New York State pays for temporary disability. This new plan -- called family leave insurance -- is separate and would increase maternity pay for some up to $450 per week for an additional six weeks.

The plan is spearheaded by Bronx Senator Jeff Klein who presented his ideas recently.

Senator Klein says, "Unlike in generations past, in recent years, we've seen way too much disconnect between New Yorkers paychecks and the reality check of what it costs to live in this state."

So how do you pay for this kind of benefit? The senator's office says the state would pick up the biggest portion of the cost, but every person who earns a paycheck would be taxed six cents every week, twelve cents per paycheck. In year two of the plan, the weekly maternity pay could go up to a max of $700 per week, but that includes more money out of your paycheck.

Elizabeth Wranovics has been on maternity leave four times including last year with her youngest -- Jacquline.

She says, "Just because you're out on disability, because you've had a kid or your injured, you still have bills. Your bills don't stop. And those bills a lot of the time will equal what you're getting for the amount of time you're out."

Assemblyman Joe Morelle says he isn't sure the math adds up on this one.

He says, "Any time you get involved in insurance however, as the former chair of the Insurance Committee in the Assembly, I know that you have to have premiums that are commensurate with the benefits you're going to pay out. And so the question is who pays for it? You couldn't have insurance honestly by people about to have children because you wouldn't get enough people to pay into it to afford the benefits."

Now some employers in our area pay new moms their full pay while they're on maternity leave. A number of people use vacation and sick days too, but according to a Rochester Business Alliance study the vast majority of local employers -- more than 90 percent -- stick with temporary disability.

The plan is part of a package of ideas called Affordable New York. It'll be introduced when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Click here to read about "Affordable NY"