When my doctor told me that he thought it would be best for me to take a full 12 weeks off from work to recuperate after the birth of my son, I was in a panic. How was I supposed to take unpaid medical leave and still pay the bills?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protected my job for 12 weeks, but not my bank account. A huge misconception people have is that FMLA not only holds a person's job, but also pays their salary while they're out. It doesn't.

At the time of my pregnancy, my company didn't really have anything solid in place and right up until the end of my pregnancy, I thought that I'd have to take 12 weeks off completely unpaid. It was only just before my son was born that my company announced a policy which would provide employees 6 weeks of pay for family medical leave. A huge burden was lifted from my shoulders- this meant that I would only have to juggle funds to cover 6 weeks of bills rather than 12.

The burden is now going to be lifted even more for New Yorkers as New York State has just reached an agreement that will change things drastically for anyone who has a new child or a very sick family member to care for.

Lawmakers in New York just reached an agreement which will provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for employees to spend time with a new child or to care for a very ill family member. If everything goes as outlined, the 12 week paid family leave will be completely funded through a very small payroll deduction on employees, so no cost will be absorbed by businesses- whether big or small. In order to be eligible, employees will have had to work for their employer for at least six months.

By doing this, New York joins three other states in providing paid family leave, but our state's plan is definitely the most generous. In California and New Jersey, parents get six weeks of paid leave. In Rhode Island, it’s just four weeks.

New York's paid leave program will begin on January 1st, 2018. It wasn't clear to me how the employee payroll deduction will work and who will have the deduction taken from their pay to cover this new law. Will it only be people participating in family leave, or will all employees see a deduction in their payroll?  From what I understand (and I need to do some more digging because I could be completely wrong) is that those using family leave will receive 50% of their average weekly wage starting in 2018 and then by 2021, they'll receive 67% of their average weekly wage.

[via U.S. Department of Labor/New York State]