Family Paid Leave Fight Examined in “Zero Weeks” Documentary

By ALFREDO ALVARADO

Paid family leave is offered to workers all over the world from Iraq to Mexico and Brazil. Papua New Guinea and the United States are on a very short list of countries that don’t offer the benefit to their workers.

“Why is it that the rest of the world has figured this out and we haven’t,” asks one of the many people interviewed in a new documentary examining the failure to provide the benefit for millions of American workers. Only 14 percent have paid family leave.

The documentary, “Zero Weeks: America’s Family Leave Crisis,” is set to premiere in Manhattan on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the SVA Theater at 333 W. 23rd St.

The film examines the struggle of American workers as they juggle full-time jobs with taking care of sick parents, spouses and children. One woman talks about having to get cancer treatment during her lunch break.

The documentary also highlights the recent legislative victory waged by the New York Paid Leave Coalition, to which DC 37 belongs, for family leave in New York and the progress around the country.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, New York will begin phasing in paid family leave of eight weeks at up to $648 per week, increasing to 12 weeks by 2021, with employees being able to receive up to 67 percent of the average weekly wage in New York state, paid for by a small employee payroll deduction.

Depending on income, this will provide full or partial wage replacement while on leave. This benefit will be available to employees in private sector employers including cultural institutions and libraries. The benefit must be negotiated for public sector employees including mayoral agencies, the Department of Education, and NYC Health+Hospitals.

In 2016 Mayor Bill de Blasio made six weeks of paid family leave available to 20,000 non-union city employees.

Read more about Paid Family Leave.

“Zero Weeks” has been chosen to be part of the DOC NYC Festival, which takes place Nov. 9-16.

 

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