Sweeney/Buono ‘Paid Family Leave’ Legislation Clears Senate Budget And Appropriations Committee

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Steve Sweeney and Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, that would extend Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) leave regulations to allow workers to take time off to care for sick family members, newborn babies and newly adopted children was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations panel.

“How an employer can force a worker to choose between taking time off to care for a family member and being able to make ends meet financially is beyond me,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “The passage of this legislation would send a clear message to New Jersey’s workers that they will no longer have to choose their financial livelihood over caring for a loved one.”

California is the only other state in the nation that grants family leave, providing six weeks off for their workers, said Senator Sweeney.

The Senators’ bill, S-2249, would authorize up to 10 weeks of paid family leave time per year for any employee who needs to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or a newborn or newly adopted child.

The bill was amended to reduce the family leave time from 12 weeks to 10 weeks as part of a compromise with the State’s business community, said Senator Sweeney.

Under the legislation, employers would be permitted to require employees to use up to two weeks of vacation time before being eligible for family leave.

Employers would also have to post notification and provide workers a written copy of their rights under Family Leave.

Employees would be required to provide employers with prior notice of leave and a doctor’s note outlining the need for and the estimated duration of the paid leave time.

If the legislation is enacted, workers would be required to contribute to the State Disability Fund, 0.1% of their wages in addition to any monies they already contribute. The money would be deposited into a fund reserved for funding the Family Leave program.

“The passage of this legislation would allow New Jersey to remain in the forefront of providing essential benefits to hard-working residents,” said Senator Sweeney.

This legislation was approved by the Senate Labor Committee in February, and it now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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