The Star-Ledger

NJ Paid Family Leave Program Wins Approval In Senate

The Star-Ledger — Monday, March 3, 2008

Susan K. Livio / The Star-Ledger

New Jersey would become the state second in the nation to offer employees a paid family leave program under a bill the state Senate approved today despite dire predictions from opponents who said New Jersey cannot afford it.

The bill would allow workers to take up to six weeks off, paid for by a payroll deduction estimated at about $33 per year. Workers would get two-thirds of their salary up to $524 a week.

"I'm sponsoring this legislation as a father who understands the urgency of this type of leave for working families, because I was in a similar situation 14 years ago when my daughter Lauren was born four months premature,'' Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said.

Some legislators echoed the concerns of business leaders, who have argued the bill would slow their productivity because they would not be able to find temporary replacements skilled enough to do specialized jobs. They've asked that the bill to be amended to apply to companies with 50 or more employees, but the suggestion was denied.

"We need to have employers to come to New Jersey...," said an angry Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex). "People will think twice about coming here or staying here. We have to change the climate in New Jersey.''

The vote was 22-16. The bill needs to be approved by the Assembly and signed by the governor to become law.

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