Paid-leave law too generous for business groups, but voters love it

Photo: Associated Press
The Business Council of New York State released a report claiming Cuomo’s paid-family-leave program proposal to be the most far-reaching in the U.S.

The Business Council of New York State released an analysis last week showing that the paid-family-leave program proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be the most far-reaching in the U.S. “Imposing additional state-level requirements would only add to the perception that the Empire State is hostile to business,” said Heather Briccetti, the council’s president and CEO.

The business group says allowing employees 12 paid weeks to care for new children or sick loved ones would put an undue burden on small businesses, though workers would fund the system.

But state legislators who defend that position could face a burden of their own come November, when they all face re-election. According to the latest Siena College poll of New York state registered voters, paid family leave garners 77% support in the suburbs and 69% support among Republicans. Among women, it is viewed even more favorably: 82% like it. Paid leave’s overall 80% approval surpasses another popular Cuomo cause—a $15 minimum wage—by 15 points.

Democrats trying to win control of the state Senate will campaign on the two measures if Republicans block them. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, has signaled that he is open to compromise. He could look to exempt smaller businesses from paid leave and push the $15 wage further into the future.

A version of this article appears in the February 22, 2016, print issue of Crain’s New York Business.