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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | New Jersey Gov. Corzine Calls for Legislature To Pass Paid Family Leave Bill

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | New Jersey Gov. Corzine Calls for Legislature To Pass Paid Family Leave Bill
[Dec. 5, 2007]

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) on Friday said he would like to sign a bill (S 2249) by next month that would allow workers in businesses of any size to take up to 10 weeks off every two years to care for a newborn or a sick family member and continue to receive a portion of their wages, Gannett/Vineland Daily Journal reports (Stilwell, Gannett/Vineland Daily Journal, 12/3). The bill is awaiting a floor vote in the state Senate, but the state Assembly has not yet held a committee hearing on the bill, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (Howlett, Newark Star-Ledger, 12/1).

Workers would be required to use vacation time prior to using family leave and payments would be limited to two-thirds of an employee's gross salary up to $502 weekly, according to the measure. The program would be funded through an employee-only payroll deduction of 0.1% that would be set aside in a reserve in the state's disability fund (Gannett/Vineland Daily Journal, 12/3).

State Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D), who sponsored the measure, said the Senate committee reduced the amount of time off from 12 weeks to 10 and would further reduce it to six weeks to pass the legislation. He said he would not support making small businesses exempt from the measure. Sweeney said he is hopeful the state Legislature will vote on the bill before the current session ends next month. California is the only state to offer paid family leave, the Star-Ledger reports.


According to the Star-Ledger, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey are concerned that workers would abuse the program and that small businesses would have difficulty temporarily replacing workers on family leave (Newark Star-Ledger, 12/1). Employers with fewer than 50 employees would not be required to hire back the employee on extended leave, according to Gannett/Daily Journal.

Gaytana Pino -- who operates an office supply distributorship in Cherry Hill, N.J. -- said that employers would be less likely to hire women if the bill were passed because they are more likely to take time from work for the birth of an infant or to care for family members. According to data from California, 90% of workers who use paid family leave are new parents.

Corzine during a speech to the chamber said the benefits of helping families achieve a work-life balance outweigh possible abuses of the program, adding that he is "not convinced it is so devastating to business practices and operations" (Gannett/Vineland Daily Journal, 12/3). Corzine said that if business leaders in the state look at the result of California's law, they would see paid family leave is not a hardship on employers (Newark Star-Ledger, 12/1).