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10 hours ago by
Workers will eventually get 12 weeks off at 67% pay to care for a newborn or a sick relative Not everyone is happy about the new regulation Frank Kerbein's phone has been ringing off the hook. As director of the Center for Human Resources at the Business Council of New York State, he's been hearing from business owners concerned about a sweeping state law that starts Jan. 1. It mandates partially paid leave of up to 12 weeks for workers caring for a new child or helping out when a family member is sick or on active military duty—and protects their job and health benefits. New York is one of just five states with such a law, and its program is the most comprehensive in terms of situations covered and duration. Though it is funded entirely by employee payroll deductions, Kerbein said, it puts a "significant administrative burden" on employers, especially smaller ones. And an increase in unscheduled days off will impose additional costs, he said. Politicians "seem to think we're nothing but a cash dispensary," groused Matthew LaSorsa, who owns Heights Chateau, a wine store in Brooklyn. Paid family leave has become a hot-button issue two decades after the 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act mandated 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave annually. Yet family leave with pay remains elusive here, in contrast to the rest of the world. In the U.S. just 13% of workers have access to it, and the highest-earning 10% are four times more likely to have it than the bottom 25%. New York's law applies to companies with at least one employee. Workers contribute up to $1.65 weekly to an insurance plan, typically added to an employer's disability coverage. The benefits will phase up, from eight weeks at 50% of salary (subject to caps) to 12 weeks at 67% in 2021. Those working regularly 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 weeks, or 175 days if under 20 hours. The law is good news for New York City's roughly 4 million private-sector employees. (It does not cover the 556,000 government workers in the city, although their agencies can opt in. Unions must negotiate separately for paid leave.) Some call it good for business too. "Employers want to make sure they have a healthy and productive workforce and retain and attract employees," said Candace Sherman, CEO of the Northeast Business Group on Health, an employer-based coalition. "So an attractive benefits package is obviously a plus." That's been true for UncommonGoods, an online retailer employing 200 full-time workers at its Brooklyn headquarters that already offers primary caregivers eight weeks off at full pay. The state program will offset that cost by perhaps 15%. "It takes the burden off small employers so they can use the resources they would have paid employees [on leave] to hire someone else," says Erik Rettig, Northeast/mid-Atlantic director of Small Business Majority, an advocacy group. That is one reason UncommonGoods CEO Dave Bolotsky advocated for the state law. "It makes sense from a place of compassion as well as a financial and business perspective," he said. "It's in a business's interest to not make its workers choose between family and work." Concerns about paid family leave elsewhere have proved overblown. In California, where a 2004 law provided six weeks at up to 55% of earnings, a survey of employers after five years found it had a positive or unnoticeable effect on productivity, profitability, turnover and morale. Small businesses were least likely to report any harm. Rhode Island's program is credited with reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity and worker morale in the food-service and manufacturing sectors. Kerbein is not convinced. For one, New York's Department of Labor has proposed rules that would penalize employers for making last-minute schedule changes, which could complicate efforts to cover unscheduled paid-leave days. "Our experience in New York will be different," he said. By Amy Cortese

November 29, 2017 by
The Google-owned video site faces controversy over inappropriate videos and comments aimed at children -- and major brands have reportedly pulled ads. YouTube is facing another advertiser boycott.  YouTube is trying to clean up its site as it deals with controversies concerning minors on the service.   The Google-owned video site has drawn ire because some videos with children were the target of sexually inappropriate comments. In response, YouTube killed hundreds of accounts and removed more than 150,000 videos from the platform this week, a spokeswoman said in a statement. The site also turned off comments on more than 625,000 videos targeted by alleged child predators. The purge comes as several advertisers reportedly pulled ads from YouTube over the controversy, including Adidas and Deutsche Bank. Representatives for those brands didn't respond to requests for comment. YouTube has also been under fire after the filters for YouTube Kids, the version of the site designed for younger audiences, failed to recognize or pull down some videos that feature disturbing imagery but are aimed at children -- like Mickey Mouse lying in a pool of blood, or a claymation version of Spider Man urinating on Elsa, the Disney princess from "Frozen." YouTube also said Tuesday it removed ads from nearly 2 million videos and more than 50,000 channels that tried to pass as family-friendly but featured inappropriate content. Last week, the company outlined new rules to make YouTube safer for kids. They included using machine learning and automated tools to identify inappropriate videos, as well as doubling the number of human reviewers to police the content. This isn't the first time YouTube has faced an advertiser boycott. Earlier this year, advertisers fled YouTube after their ads appeared next to extremist and hate content because of YouTube's automated advertising technology. Major brands, including AT&T and Johnson & Johnson, ditched advertising on the platform. But Ruth Porat, Google's CFO, said on an earnings conference call last month that most of the advertisers that boycotted have returned to the platform. Richard Nieva