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Gillibrand faces obstacles in effort for paid family leave

Ryan Delaney
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in a file photo.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand faces an uphill battle in getting paid family leave for workers into law.

Gillibrand, a Democrat, wants to make federal law the ability for workers to take extended time off for childbirth or to care for a sick family member. Employees would receive two-thirds pay while they’re away from work, paid for by a small tax to employers and employees, similar to social security reductions on a paycheck.

It’s an investment in a better workplace, Gillibrand said. "If it’s an earned benefit, like social security, everyone has access to it. And it’s a small amount of money, it’s literally $2 a week for an average employee," she said. 

Gillibrand stopped by CenterState CEO’s annual meeting of regional businesses to stump for her measure.

Many company executives declined to comment on the proposal, saying they didn’t know enough yet. Mark Pfisterer, from AmeriCU credit union, says his company would be open to paid leave.

"There is a definite need and I think it all comes down to, it’s always kind of ‘the devil in the details’ kind of thing," he said.

Family leave could encourage more young workers to not leave upstate, Pfisterer said. He gave the example of his credit union working with an employee dealing with a difficult pregnancy and letting her take extended time off.

Gillibrand will also have a difficult time getting the FAMILY Act through Congress. It has co-sponsors, but all are fellow Democrats. And both chambers are controlled by Republicans.