Philadelphia Inquirer

Family-Leave Insurance Would Aid Businesses

The Philadelphia Inquirer — Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Letter to the Editor

A recent attack on family-leave insurance by Kathleen A. Davis, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, fails to grasp the realities of the 21st-century economy ("Legislation on family leave unneeded," June 26). One of the hardest jobs anyone has today is balancing work and family. Conflicts are inevitable, often involving having to care for a sick child, spouse or parent.

Family-leave insurance in New Jersey would let men and women take some time off at reduced pay (but at least some pay) for family emergencies. Employees would pay (on average, under 50 cents a week) into a fund that would provide those needing it up to 10 weeks off at two-thirds pay (capped at $502 a week).

During legislative hearings, small-business owners from the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition came in support of family-leave insurance. They understand they won't have to pay a penny into the fund. They know workers who get time to help their families are more productive.

A study by the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University found employee turnover costs far exceed the cost of providing employees' leaves. It also found that while many New Jersey small-business owners (under 50 employees) already give time off to care for family members, they regret being unable to provide any pay.

Business groups against family-leave insurance fail to note the legislation doesn't require small businesses to save the job of anyone taking leave. But at least the fund the workers paid into will provide financial help for a while. What is antibusiness about that?

Economic life today is difficult. It requires partnerships among working people, businesses and government to make things work. Family-leave insurance is just that.

Eileen Appelbaum
Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University

Jon Shure
New Jersey Policy Perspective

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