The Daily Record


Yes For Paid Leave

Legislation seeks fair treatment of employees

Daily Record — Friday, February 9, 2007

Employees are granted up to three months unpaid leave to take care of a newborn or a family health crisis, according to federal law. Now there's a bill in Trenton that would institute paid leave – up to a point.

Legislation approved recently by a Senate panel would pay workers two-thirds of their salaries. Employees would pay for the privilege through a 0.1 percent increase in payroll taxes. The change would cost employers no money.

We think this is a good idea, assuming there's an exception for small businesses. The federal law, which covers businesses having 50 of more employees, is a good guide.

There periodically is much talk in politics about "family values," a term that can mean different things to different people. Nevertheless, allowing a mother to care for an infant or a man to attend to the needs of a sick parent definitely is a "family value."

A recent study by Harvard and McGill universities found that workplace polices in the United States are far less generous than other western nations. In fact, the U.S. is only one of five countries surveyed with no form of paid maternity leave. The others are Liberia, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.

Opposition to the original family leave act in Congress centered on the belief the mandate would be too tough on businesses. We will likely hear similar comments in Trenton as the debate over paid leave unfolds. Let's balance that opposition with the need to help employees through family emergencies. Businesses across the country survived the family leave act, and we have no doubt they'll survive partially paid leave as well.

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