Lawmakers in New Jersey have approved legislation that will establish a paid family leave program in the state.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine supports the legislation (A873) and released a statement in which he applauded the passage of it.
The legislation extends the state's Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program to provide benefits for employees taking leave to care for a family member suffering a serious health condition or taking leave to bond with their newborn or newly adopted child. The insurance fund will be financed through worker payroll deductions.
Under the legislation, employees can receive up to 6 weeks of family leave benefits over a 12-month period. The benefits will be the same as the weekly amount for TDI benefits during a worker's own disability (two-thirds of their usual wage, with a maximum of $524 a week in 2008). The maximum weekly benefit will be adjusted annually for inflation.
The legislation applies to all private and public employers subject to the unemployment compensation law.
The legislation allows:
- Employers to require that the employee use available sick or vacation pay or other fully paid leave before receiving family leave benefits. Note: The maximum amount of fully paid leave an employer can require the employee to use before receiving family leave benefits is 2 weeks.
- Employers to reduce the number of days of family leave benefits by the number of days that fully paid leave is provided.
If employers force the employee to take a week or more of sick or vacation pay, they must allow the employee to use the first week's worth of that paid leave during the one-week waiting period that precedes the start of family leave benefits, according to the legislation.
New Jersey joins California and Washington in requiring paid family leave. Washington's program becomes effective in October 2009. In New Jersey, workers would be able to start collecting family leave benefits in July 1, 2009. The payroll deductions would begin in January 2009.