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Sweeney Measure Would Enhance Family Leave in Health Emergencies

TRENTON – Acting to allow workers to take time off to care for an ill family member during the coronavirus crisis, the Senate today voted to approve legislation authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would expand the state’s Family Leave law.

The bill, S-2374, would revise the program to include leave for employees who need to care for a sick family member due to an epidemic of a communicable disease, or to prevent the spread of the disease. During the COVID-19 outbreak, workers would be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of family leave during a 24-month period without losing their jobs.

“This public health crisis is putting enormous strains on families, especially those that need to care for a loved one who is infected,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), who authored the original family leave law. “They should not be forced to choose between an ill family member and their job. While we are experiencing emergency circumstances that could not have been anticipated, this is what the law should be covering.”

The bill would include school closings as an acceptable use of family leave, a particularly important protection with the state’s schools and most day care facilities now shut to prevent the spread of COVID-19.