By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Research Scientist Michael D. Zboray is among the more than 1,000 union members who are taking advantage of the new paid family leave benefit that went into effect at the beginning of the year.
Zboray combined his vacation and sick days with his family leave time after the birth of his daughter, Polina, in January.
“My wife Anna and I decided it was very important for me to take advantage of the benefit,” said Zboray, a member of New York City Police Department Civilian Unit Local 3778. “Having a baby, of course, changes your life. If someone were to ask me about the benefit, I would absolutely recommend it.”
He has now returned to work and is taking days off periodically for the rest of the year. Zboray said he enjoys the flexibility of the plan, which allows you use the leave in one bloc or spread it out over the course of a year.
The union won paid family leave as part of the 2017-21 economic agreement, which covers more than 90,000 DC 37 members. Union members pay a small payroll deduction for the benefit, which allows them to take up to 10 weeks to care for a baby, adoptive child, foster child or an adult with a serious illness.
The benefit covers 55 percent of the statewide average wage, which this year amounts to a maximum biweekly payment of $1,493.
Zboray said his first step was to explore his options with his Grievance Rep, Samantha Rappa-Giovagnoli.
“My union really helped me understand the benefit,” Zboray said.
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that lacks a universal paid family leave national policy. Only 16 percent of all workers in the United States are covered by a paid family leave benefit, according a Congressional Research Service report in May.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 — approved during the Clinton administration–permits workers to take up to 12 weeks off a year. But the act doesn’t entitle workers to be paid during their time off.
In 2004, California became the first state in the country to implement a paid family leave law. Since then, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington State and the District of Columbia approved their own laws. Today, about a dozen cities have laws that cover public employees.
Information about the city benefit is available at https://www1.nyc.gov/.