NJ Senate OKs Family Leave Measure

March 4, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - The New Jersey state Senate on Monday approved and sent on to the General Assembly a measure giving workers in the Garden State the right to paid leave to care for a family member.

The New York Times reported that Assembly members are expected to likewise approve the measure when they are scheduled to consider it March 13. Governor Jon S. Corzine has said he will sign the bill if it is sent to him. Senators passed the bill 22 to 16, according to the news account.

According to the Times, an analysis from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimated that about 38,000 workers are expected to take advantage of the law each year, at a cost to employees of $98 million in the first full year.

The bill says companies with more than 50 employees must give the workers their jobs back when they return, but makes no such provision for workers at smaller companies. If the bill becomes law, it will take effect on January 1, 2009.

The measure would be financed by employee payroll deductions that would cost every worker in New Jersey a maximum of $0.64 a week, or $33 a year, the Times said. Those taking the leave would be eligible for two-thirds of their salary, up to a maximum of $524 a week, for six weeks. The benefit falls short of the $917 a week that California offers but is more than double what Washington State will offer starting next year.

In New York, similar legislation offering paid family leave for 12 weeks, but for only $170 a week, has stalled, the news report said.