Williston Park weighing paid family leave for employees

Williston Park weighing paid family leave for employees
Village of Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar is seen on April 24, 2017. (Photo by Rebecca Anzel)

The Village of Williston Park is considering offering village employees paid family leave under a state law passed this year.

Village officials are weighing whether to opt into the state program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in February, Mayor Paul Ehrbar said. Private employers must implement it, but municipalities and other public employers can decide whether to participate.

“It’s very new. We’re still working on the details,” Ehrbar said at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.

Starting in January 2018, the state program will offer up to eight weeks of paid leave for qualifying workers if they take time off after the birth of a child, while a relative is sick or if a relative is called to active military duty.

Workers fund the program, which will be part of employers’ disability insurance packages, with a small deduction from each paycheck. That would be $1.31 per week for Williston Park employees, village Clerk Julie Kain said.

The village’s nine nonunion employees would get the benefits to start if Williston Park participates, but none could opt out individually, Ehrbar said. Benefits for the 29 union employees would have to be separately negotiated in labor contracts, he said.

Village officials are currently negotiating new labor contracts with members of the two labor unions, who are currently working under contracts that expired last year, Ehrbar said.

“Especially as we’re negotiating the contract, it might be something we can offer that isn’t a lot now,” Trustee Michael Uttaro said last week.

Those who take time off will get a weekly payment of 50 percent of their weekly wage or 50 percent of the state’s average weekly wage, whichever is lower, according to the state. Workers do not have to take off all eight weeks consecutively, Kain said.

The state program will ramp up to offer 55 percent of an employee’s weekly wage for 10 weeks starting in 2019 and then 67 percent of the weekly wage for 12 weeks starting in 2021, according to the state.

The Town of North Hempstead would have to negotiate any changes to its existing leave policy with its labor unions, a town spokeswoman, Carole Trottere, said in an email.

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