Members of the New Jersey Senate voted 21-15 Monday to send a paid family leave bill to Gov. Jon Corzine.
The bill, Assembly bill 873, would provide 6 weeks of paid leave for workers at businesses of all sizes who are caring for a baby, a newly adopted child, or a child, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner or parent who is suffering from a serious health condition, according to the bill text.
In March, members of the New Jersey Assembly voted 46-30 to approve the bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Nelson Albano, D-Vineland, N.J.
Corzine, D, says he will sign the bill.
“Today is a victory for the working families of New Jersey and all those who believe that earning a living and caring for a loved one should not be an either/or decision,” Corzine says in a statement about the bill.
California and Washington state are the only states that now have paid family leave programs.
The program created by A. 873 would apply to all private and government employees who participate in the state’s unemployment insurance program, according to an Assembly Appropriations staff analysis of the bill.
Starting Jan. 1, 2009, each New Jersey worker would contribute $33 per year to a family leave insurance fund through payroll deductions.
Eligible workers could take paid family leave starting on July 1, 2009. The leave takers would get two-thirds of their usual pay, up to a maximum of $524 per week.
Workers would have to be off work for at least a week to collect the benefits, and employers could require that workers take up to 2 weeks of available sick pay or vacation pay before going on paid family leave.
Workers could take family leave in “increments” as well as in long blocks. The minimum increment would be 1 day.
Employers could choose to self-insure the paid family leave costs or get paid family leave insurance from a private insurer.
Employers would have no new, state-imposed legal obligation to take employees back once family leave time was over.
Groups such as the New Jersey Industry & Business Association, Trenton, N.J., have opposed passage of A. 873.
NJBIA President Philip Kirschner says this is the wrong time to create any program that would increase New Jersey employment costs or government expenditures.
“New Jersey cannot even pay for the programs it has now,” Kirschner says in a statement.
The NJ Time To Care Coalition, Trenton, N.J., a coalition of labor groups, community groups and other groups, countered opposition to paid family leave proposals by accusing business lobbyists of giving lawmakers a bunch of baloney about the cost of a paid leave program.