ALBANY — Our union recently reached an agreement with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration to provide paid parental leave to all eligible members.

Under the agreement, which is effective retroactive to April 2, 2023 for CSEA members covered under the state Executive Branch, employees may take leave with full pay for up to 12 weeks for the birth of a child or placement of a child via adoption or foster care.

The governor made the announcement at a June 13 news conference, surrounded by members of CSEA and other state unions, who will soon also be covered under the agreement once they ratify their agreements with the state.

Paid parental leave is available for use once every 12-month period. All covered employees who work full time or who work at least 50% part time are eligible for this benefit.

While paid parental leave has been available to private sector workers in New York since 2016, public sector employees were not covered because this type of paid leave would need to be part of a negotiated contract. This is the first time in history that paid parental leave is available to the majority of the state workforce.

Despite the well-documented positive benefits of paid parental leave to maternal and infant health, as well as family economic security and workforce retention, the United States is the only developed country in the world without a national paid parental leave policy.

The governor first announced this initiative as part of her 2023 State of the State address.

“No one should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for their newborn child,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “In my State of the State, I put forward a nation-leading proposal to offer fully paid parental leave benefits to New York State employees — and we are making good on that promise. By extending fully paid parental leave to over 80 percent of State employees, New York is leading by example and providing a critical line of support for hardworking families.”

“This agreement recognizes that anyone who has the opportunity to become a parent either through childbirth, adoption or fostering should be allowed to spend the time to strengthen parental-child bonds without worrying about the economic impact of being on unpaid leave,” said CSEA President Mary. E. Sullivan. “Paid parental leave will be another great benefit for our union members across New York State and we are thankful that Governor Hochul is staying true to her commitment to make this happen. While much of the United States is far behind other countries regarding paid family and parental leave policies, New York has definitely taken a step in the right direction.”

The governor noted that she believes paid parental leave is also good for employee productivity and allow workers time to bond with their children and recharge without the stress of losing a paycheck.

“Economic security is good for maternal health, and it’s good for workforce retention,” said Hochul. “I think it’s going to boost employee participation.”

The governor also announced that the state Department of Labor will launch a campaign promoting paternity leave, as many fathers tend to take only two weeks off from work follow the birth or adoption of a child.

“As a father who has adopted, fostered, and witnessed birth to my daughter, I am grateful that the state recognizes the necessity of paid parental leave,” said SUNY at Albany Local member David Addante. “This November, we are expecting the birth of another child, and I look forward to using this leave to aid my healing wife and bond with my newborn.”

CSEA Statewide Secretary Richard Bebo, who gave remarks on behalf of our union at the announcement of the expansion, spoke about his own experiences as a new parent.

“When my first daughter was born, I wasn’t (yet employed by) the state,” said Bebo. “I had to go to work. I was working a retail job and we could not afford for me to take time off.”

Bebo added that this initiative will help people who may be considering a career with New York state.

“We are now making it easier for them to (join the state) because they can start a family together and don’t have to worry about (losing pay),” said Bebo. “This is going to help us retain workers because this is going to help us recruit them. So, it’s just an historic thing. Governor Hochul has made a commitment and stuck by that commitment. We still have work to do, but we are so happy we are moving forward together.”

— Janice Gavin

Top photo: Front row, from left to right, Capital District Retirees Local activist Jay Ingoldsby, Capital District Retirees Local Executive Vice President Bill VanGuilder, Capital Region Treasurer Stacey Deyo, CSEA Statewide Secretary Richard Bebo, Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Office of General Services Local member Melissa Manning, state Office of General Services Local Executive Vice Preaident Shaneeka Traynham, Capital District Pyschiatric Center Local President Zakiya Rhymer and state Office of General Services Local 2nd Vice President Quinton Gordon. Back row, from left to right, state Office of General Services Local President Joe Eissing, Capital District Retirees Local 2nd Vice President Jeff Zabielski and Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research Local President John Crandell.


About Author

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 25 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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