The Star-Ledger

The Ins And Outs On Paid Family Leave

The Star-Ledger — Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Senate yesterday approved a bill allowing workers to take paid leaves of absence to care for family members. It now awaits the signature of Gov. Jon Corzine, who has said he will sign it.

Who can take paid family leave?

Workers can take paid leave to spend time with a new child or a member of their immediate family who is sick. For a new child, the leave must be taken within 12 months of the child's birth or adoption, and the worker must give 30 days' notice prior to taking leave. To care for an immediate family member (which means a child, parent or spouse – no second cousins, grandmothers or great-uncles), the employee must give 15 days' notice.

How much will I be paid?

Up to two-thirds of your salary, to a maximum of $524 per week, tax-free.

How long can I take off?

Up to six weeks.

Are there any special requirements?

Employers can require workers to use up to two weeks of available vacation time, sick time or personal days before they are eligible for paid family leave.

Is anyone exempt?

The law will not apply to federal government employees.

Am I guaranteed my job will be waiting when my leave is finished?

Federal and state family medical leave laws already require companies with 50 or more people to hold the job of someone on leave. This bill does not change that. If you work for a company with fewer than 50 workers, there is no such requirement and you forfeit the right to sue or take any other action against your employer if you are replaced.

When will this law take effect?

Payroll deductions to pay for family leave will show up in your paycheck beginning in January. Workers will be able to begin applying for paid leave benefits in July 2009.

How will the state pay for this?

The money will come from a tax on workers: In the first year, you'll have 0.09 percent of your salary withheld from your paycheck. By the second year, it will increase to 0.12 percent, or $33 a year on the $27,700 that is the maximum taxable income. The state Department of Labor can borrow up to $25 million from the existing Temporary Disability Insurance fund for start-up costs.

Do other states do this?

Right now, only California offers paid family leave. Washington state has passed a paid family leave law, but it won't go into effect until October 2009.

The Star-Ledger

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