The Business Council opposes this legislation that would is bill would add bereavement leave to the state’s already expansive Paid Family Leave (PFL) law that – once fully implemented – will provide employees up to twelve weeks of paid leave each year.
While we are empathetic to the intent of this bill, as drafted it would authorize use of the full amount of paid leave – eventually up to twelve weeks per year – in response to the death of a family member. Like PFL’s provisions for new child bonding, which requires leave to be taken within twelve months of a birth or adoption, the bill as written appears to allow bereavement leave to be taken at any time after the death of a family member, seemingly with no restrictions.
We are particularly concerned that the legislature is proposing a dramatic expansion of the Paid Family Leave act that has only been in effect for just over five months. Employers, the state, insurers and employees are still working to understand and implement the current law.
Bereavement leave would rarely be scheduled in advance so, combined with the intermittent unscheduled nature of PFL, employers could ultimately be faced with up to 60 days of unscheduled absence annually by each full time employee.
As PFL applies to employers of even one employee, small business in particular will have immense challenges in managing staffing levels to meet customer needs.
Moreover, the New York Department of Labor is preparing to issue final regulations that would add substantial costs to employers forced to “call-in” workers to cover these unscheduled, job protected absences. The combined impact on small businesses – the vast majority of New York employers – would be devastating.
As a final point, bereavement leave is a benefit already provided by more than 90 percent of all employers (Source: SHRM 2018 Benefits Survey). According to that survey, the typical allowable leave is 4 days. Employers understand that to attract and retain the best talent available they need to be there for their employee’s in their time of need and will continue to do so without another burdensome government mandate.
For these reasons, The Business Council, on behalf of its more than 2,400 members around the state, OPPOSE this bill.