NYC Public Advocate Pushes To Pass Re-integration Bill To Support New Parents Returning To Work

June 26th, 2023

Press Release

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams pushed today to pass his legislation aimed at addressing inequities and issues that primarily arise for new parents post-pregnancy, during re-entry into the workplace. At a hearing of the Committee on Civil and Human Rights, he stressed the importance of providing transitional information and accommodations when a parent returns to work after an absence.

"Having spoken to many of my staff, who have welcomed children during their tenure in my office, and as a parent myself, I know the challenges of returning to the workplace," Public Advocate Williams explained. "It is an adjustment, not only for employees and their families but for employers as well. Things shift quickly in the workplace, policies can change and lapse, public health emergencies necessitate rapid response as we saw with the pandemic and the recent air quality issues. With this bill, we want to ensure that employees and employers can come together and facilitate an easy integration back into the workforce."

The legislation, Intro 84, would require employers, under guidance from the NYC Commission on Human Rights, to hold an onboarding meeting to discuss an employee's reintegration back into the workplace after parental leave. Employees returning from parental or medical leave often struggle during their return to work, lacking critical information about changes to the workplace or projects that have occurred while they were away. This bill would help correct that information gap.

"It is customary for employees to write exit memos in anticipation of parental leave, for work to be reassigned but the same is not always true for their reintegration into the workplace..." continued the Public Advocate in his statement. "... Creating an inclusive and supportive workplace requires open lines of communication, and this bill formalizes one such instance when that kind of communication is most needed."

This bill was part of a maternal health package from the Public Advocate, and was introduced alongside legislation to establish a maternal health bill of rights and ensure that pregnant individuals are informed of those rights through a public education campaign. That piece of the legislative package became law in August of 2022.

The Public Advocate’s office has long been engaged in efforts to combat maternal health inequity. His office released a report on the issue in 2021 entitled Equitable Pregnancy Outcomes for Black and Brown New Yorkers, which analyzes systemic issues and outlines potential policy solutions. While progress has been made in recent years, including passage of the Public advocate’s previous bills and recent budget allocations, more can be done to address all parts of this ongoing issue.

Read the Public Advocate’s full comments to the committee below.

Good morning, 

My name is Jumaane D. Williams, and I am the Public Advocate for the City of New York. I would like to thank Chair Williams and the members of the Committee on Civil and Human Rights for holding this very important hearing. Intro 84 would require employers to hold an onboarding meeting to discuss an employee's reintegration back into the workplace after parental leave. 

Having spoken to many of my staff, who have welcomed children during their tenure in my office, and as a parent myself, I know the challenges of returning to the workplace. It is an adjustment, not only for employees and their families but for employers as well. Things shift quickly in the workplace, policies can change and lapse, public health emergencies necessitate rapid response as we saw with the pandemic and the recent air quality issues. With this bill, we want to ensure that employees and employers can come together and facilitate an easy integration back into the workforce. 

It is customary for employees to write exit memos in anticipation of parental leave, for work to be reassigned but the same is not always true for their reintegration into the workplace. The policy this bill sets forth would ensure that employers are prepared to reassign previous or new workload to the employee upon their return. It also gives employees the space to discuss expectations as well as restraints and limitations throughout the transition period. Creating an inclusive and supportive workplace requires open lines of communication, and this bill formalizes one such instance when that kind of communication is most needed. 

This bill was originally part of our Black maternal health package, we know it has much further implications. We hope we can get support from the committee, and of course, from the administration. 

Thank you. 

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