Sweeney Initiative Expanding the Scope of NJ’s Paid Family Leave Program Sent to Governor

Trenton – Acting swiftly to expand the scope of New Jersey’s paid leave programs for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assembly today approved, and sent to the Governor, a legislative initiative authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney to cover more workers during public health crises.

“The coronavirus pandemic is creating health care challenges with economic consequences for workers and their families that are likely to become worse,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), who authored the original Paid Family Leave Law. “We must work together to be resourceful, responsive and proactive at a time when so many people are experiencing hardship due to the pandemic.”

Senator Sweeney praised the collaboration between the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s Office to act swiftly in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, S-2304, would extend temporary disability and family leave benefits to workers who need to take time off of work to recover from COVID-19 or to care for family members suffering from the disease. It would also expand earned sick leave benefits to cover mandatory or recommended quarantines. The legislation was approved by the Senate last week as part of a package of coronavirus response bills.

The current family leave program is capable of providing up to 85 percent of wages with a cap of $859. The expanded bill would make the benefits available for people who have to self-quarantine or care for loved ones and allow those who have not lost jobs but are still confronted with financial difficulties to continue to collect a paycheck.

The legislation would expand the definition of a “serious health condition” under both programs so that more workers would become eligible for benefits during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or determined by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority. The expansion would include an illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease.

The bill was released from the Assembly by a vote of 78-0.

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