The Star-Ledger

Paid Family Leave Act Clears State Senate

The Star-Ledger — Monday, April 7, 2008

Susan K. Livio / The Star-Ledger

The state Senate today gave final legislative approval to a bill to allow workers to take paid leaves of absence to care for family members. The measure passed by a vote of 21-15 despite the objections of opponents who said it will hurt the state's economy and make New Jersey less competitive.

The paid family leave act (A873) would allow workers to apply for up to six weeks off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or a sick parent, spouse or child, and collect up to two-thirds of their pay, up to a maximum of $524 a week. The benefit would be funded by an average worker contribution of about $33 a year, levied through a mandatory employee payroll tax.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jon Corzine, who has said he will sign it into law.

Sponsors say employees should not be forced to choose between their jobs and their families when a new child arrives or a loved one has a health crisis. Opponents contend the measure will add to the cost of doing business in New Jersey and prompt some employers to take their jobs elsewhere.

On its way through the Legislature, the bill was substantively re-written to offer broader legal protection for business owners with fewer than 50 employees. It now gives small-business owners the right to fire and replace an employee who takes family leave if the company says it cannot operate without a key position filled.

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