New Jersey boasts a paid family leave program that is 15 years old, and an earned sick leave law that just turned five. Both aim to provide income support to workers when they need time off to heal, provide care and bond with new babies. Yet not all workers can benefit from these laws equally. Significant barriers remain that prevent far too many workers from taking time when needed — and often these are lower-income workers of color.
More New Jerseyans are accessing the state paid family leave program, Family Leave Insurance; claims have steadily been increasing since 2018 when the program was expanded, and the most recent available data for 2021 shows there were just over 46,000 eligible FLI claims. Yet, those demographics are skewed toward white, higher-earning, better-educated workers who are already more likely to have access to paid time off from their employer.