New York state’s paid family leave program was expanded Monday to care for a sibling with a serious health condition as lawmakers in Washington cut paid family and sick leave from a $1.85 trillion federal spending bill.

“I’m here to declare that taking care of your family is a basic right, the right to not lose your income when you make the decision to take care of an elderly parent,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday.

Hochul signed a bill into law expanding New York’s Paid Family Leave program to care for siblings at a press conference in Manhattan with bill sponsors Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-Queens, and Assemblymember Sandy Galef, D-Ossining.

The program was expanded to include siblings for people who have no other family, such as people without children, or those in the LGBTQ community.

For many workers, a brother or sister is the only family they have, and in 21st century New York, families come in different configurations. Women and people of color in low-wage jobs are forced to choose between having a baby or caring for a loved one and losing their jobs.

“This is a very real problem for New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “I’m so proud today we have lawmakers who understand this basic right to take care of each other.”

State officials Monday rightly criticized federal lawmakers for failing to include a national paid family leave plan in the spending bill.

It’s unthinkable that in the midst of a pandemic and deep worker shortages, paid family leave ended up on the cutting room floor in Congress. Also unacceptable is Washington turning its back on workers who play by the rules and show up on their jobs through thick and thin and dumping the responsibility on the state. A tip of the hat to legislative leaders for putting hard-working New Yorkers first.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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