New law gives New York City workers paid family leave for anyone they define as family

Later this year, a new law will go into effect in New York City, allowing workers to use paid family leave to care for anyone they personally define as family, regardless of whether that relationship falls into biological categories. The city will join a handful of places in the US that apply a similarly broad definition of family to regulations governing paid sick leave: cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Paul, and the states of Arizona and Rhode Island. Federal employees, regardless where they live, have similar rights: an executive order signed by former president Obama in 2015 updated federal workers’ paid family leave to include any individual related “by blood or affinity.”

via Quartz at Work

These changes are small but significant steps towards rectifying a dire situation in the US, where, in 2017, only 15% of employees had access to paid family leave.

The roots of this effort can be found in the decades-long struggle of LGBT advocates to force states to update employment-benefits laws to cover domestic partners instead of exclusively “spouses” — a legal relationship that, until recently, most same-sex couples were barred from having. LGBT rights organizations have also been deeply involved in the effort to expand the definition of family, partnering with workers’ rights groups to lobby for more inclusive language in paid family leave bills.