New Jersey Legislature Considering Paid Family Leave

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New Jersey Legislature Considering Paid Family Leave
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The federal government, the State of New Jersey and many other states have family leave statutes which permit employees to take time off to care for a sick spouse, child or parent. In New Jersey, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees every twelve months to care for certain family members who have a serious health condition, or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is similar, although there are differences, but what it shares in common with the New Jersey statute is that the leave is unpaid.

There are presently bills before the New Jersey Senate and the New Jersey Assembly which would require paid family leave of employers of all sizes, including those who are not presently covered by the New Jersey Family Leave Act or FMLA. Under one proposal, employees taking leave would receive up to 12 weeks of pay at 2/3 of their usual wage rates, with a maximum of $502/wk. Paid leave would be funded from the employee portion of the State’s temporary disability law, as presently proposed, but the cost would be passed on to employers through a tax.

If New Jersey passes this legislation, it will be only the second state in the nation, after California, to have paid family leave. The present proposal is more generous than that offered by California, which provides for only six weeks of paid leave at 60% of the worker’s wage rate.

As you may be aware, similar proposals have been made in recent years but have not passed. This year there is significant concern that this proposal will pass. If you believe that this is ill-advised, it is recommended that you contact your state Senator or Assembly person. You may also want to participate in a coalition which is being formed by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. You can contact John Rogers of the NJBIA at Jrogers@NJBIA.org or at (609) 393-7707, ext. 209.

It is only if business people like yourselves make your views known that ill-conceived legislation such as this can be defeated. We would encourage you to act now and not wait until it is too late.

If you have any questions about the issues discussed in this Advisory, please contact Michael K. Furey or Scott A. Ohnegian.