Paid Family Leave Clears Another Hurdle

NJBIZ — Thursday, February 28, 2008

By Scott Goldstein

Legislation that would allow private sector and government workers to take six weeks of paid leave to care for newborns or seriously ill family members was passed by the Assembly Labor Committee today, 6 to 2 with one abstention.

The bill (A-873) now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a hearing on Monday, which likely is its last hurdle before getting to the full Assembly. Meanwhile, the full Senate is set to vote on the measure Monday.

If it passes and is signed by Gov. Jon Corzine – the governor has already said he would sign it – the program would begin in January.

"No hard-working New Jerseyan should ever be forced to decide between putting food on the table (and) caring for a sick family member or new baby," said Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-Cumberland), a sponsor of the bill. "It is only proper for the state to protect a worker's ability to take precious time off to take care of their highest priority – their family."

Business advocates oppose the bill, saying companies – especially small businesses – would suffer if they were to lose key employees for up to six weeks.

Under the bill, workers who use paid family leave would get two-thirds pay, up to $524 per week. Currently, employers are required to allow 12 weeks of leave, but it is unpaid and companies with fewer than 50 employees are not required to allow any leave.

The cost of the program, which would be administered by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, would not be covered by employers. Instead, workers would fund it by paying about 75 cents a week more into the existing state Temporary Disability Insurance fund through payroll deductions.

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