The newly approved New York state budget includes a minimum wage increase that is the result of several compromises.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on April 4 signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan and a 12-week paid family leave policy.
For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage would rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2018.
For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2019.
For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage would increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2021.
For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another 70 cents each year after until reaching $12.50 on Dec. 20 2020, after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.
"This minimum wage increase will be of national significance," Cuomo predicted. "It's not just raising the minimum wage. It's raising the minimum wage in a way that's responsible."
The governor's office estimated that more than 2.3 million people will be affected by the increases in the minimum wage.
Cuomo said the state budget includes the most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation. When fully phased in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.
According to the governor's office, benefits will be phased in beginning in 2018 at 50 percent of an employee's average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. The program will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees so it costs businesses, both big and small, nothing. Employees are eligible to participate after having worked for their employer for six months.
"Bonding with a new child or caring for a seriously ill family member should not cost employees their entire savings or job," Cuomo officials said in a new release. "In many instances, women who leave the workforce to care for a newborn not only forfeit their existing salaries in the short-term, but also suffer diminished future earnings and career trajectories in the long term. Establishing paid family leave marks a pivotal next step in the pursuit of equality and dignity in both the workplace and the home."