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Bill Would Grant New Yorkers 3 Months Paid Bereavement Leave To Mourn Loss Of Loved Ones

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Lawmakers want every worker in New York to get three months paid bereavement leave to mourn the loss of a loved one.

But many business owners say it could be crippling. Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign it into law?

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Richard Funke, of upstate Batavia, whose son died.

"I've experienced the pain of losing a child. The grief can be unpredictable and overwhelming," he said in a statement. "No employee should have to fear losing their job in order to take the time they need to mourn."

Sen. David Carlucci, of Clarkstown, is cosponsoring the bill, which quietly passed at the end of the legislative session and is awaiting action by the governor.

"We need to make it as easy as possible, be humane and understand the real cost involved in losing a loved one," said Carlucci.

The bill covers the death of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, in-law, grandparent or grandchild.

The law, if passed, phases in what workers can collect between 50 to 67 percent of the average weekly wage -- $680 a week.

But Greg Greenwood, owner of Bleeker Street Pizza, said it could cripple mom and pop stores.

"Our business and any other small business it would be catastrophic. Twelve weeks paid leave. We need all the staff that we have," he said.

He said the biggest problem would be training new people, then letting them go when the old employee comes back.

"That would be a very awkward situation," said Greenwood.

Christine Ippolito owns a firm that provides human resources services to small businesses.

"This has the potential to be a severe economic hardship on small companies, as well as cause operational issues when key people are out," she said.

Zack Hutchins, of the Business Council of New York, said the governor should veto the bill.

"We seem to be painting all employers with this broad brush that they're bad and that they're out to get their employees, and that's simply not the case," he said.

A recent study found that 90 percent of employers across the country provide bereavement leave. It averages four days.

If the bill is signed into law, New York would become the third state – after Oregon and Illinois – to offer the benefit and the second to provide paid leave.

A spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor will review the legislation.

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