Senate Passes Family Leave Bill

NJBIZ — Monday, April 7, 2008

By Scott Goldstein

The state Senate today gave final legislative approval to the paid family leave bill, by a vote of 21 to 15, and sent it to Gov. Jon Corzine, who has already said he will sign the controversial bill into law.

The bill (S-786) would allow private sector and government workers to take six weeks of partially paid leave to care for newborns or sick family members.

If Corzine does indeed sign it, workers would be eligible to begin taking the leave in July 2009. New Jersey would become the second state, behind California, to enact a family leave bill.

Supporters of the bill, some of whom have been fighting for a statewide paid family leave bill for more than a decade, say it would help employees balance their work and family life. "It makes New Jersey a better state in which to work and do business," said Jon Shure, a spokesman for NJ Time To Care, a coalition of groups that supports the bill.

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. "New Jersey is headed in the wrong direction," said Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth). "Unfortunately, this legislation puts in place a policy that further turns our economy south."

Workers would fund the paid family leave program by paying about 75 cents a week more into the existing state Temporary Disability Insurance fund through payroll deductions. It translates into about $35 per year.

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