TRENTON – Senator Loretta Weinberg today declared a hard-fought victory for New Jersey workers and their families with the enactment of the new Paid Family Leave law.
“This is a good day for workers and their families because we’ve injected some heart into the world of business,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This new law will help families deal with what’s really important in life – being there for loved ones in times of need.”
Senator Weinberg co-sponsored S-786, which was signed into law today by Governor Corzine. It authorizes up to six weeks of paid family disability leave during any 12-month period so workers can care for a sick family member, a newborn or an adopted child and receive two-thirds of their weekly salary up to $524.
“Nine years ago, when my late husband, Irwin, was sent home from the hospital for the last four weeks of his life, I treasured that time to be there for him and with him,” Senator Weinberg said. “Fortunately, I was able to carve out that special time from my work world, but the experience made me appreciate how precious it was.”
Senator Weinberg said the six-week time frame reflects a compromise to business interests and that the two-thirds pay allotment will help workers cover their bills. The program will be funded through worker contributions of roughly $1 a week.
“I am predicting once again that the sky will not fall now that this bill has been signed into law after what has been a 12-year struggle for working families,” Senator Weinberg said. “Just the way the sky stayed put when we lowered the blood alcohol limit for drunken driving, banned smoking in public places and passed a 48-hour stay for new moms and their babies, life as we know it will continue – and families will be much better off – now that we finally have paid family leave.”
“If time with a loved one, a partner in life, or a newborn is missed because of work, it can’t be made up,” Senator Weinberg said. “This law will ensure there’s meaning in the work world to ‘family values.’”
Senator Weinberg credited her status as an assemblywoman with excellent health insurance and an extremely competent staff for enabling her to take the time off to be with her husband, Irwin, in the last weeks of her life. Her personal experience, she said, inspired her advocacy for the paid family leave law enacted today.
“There will be peace of mind knowing it’s there and paid for by the workers themselves,” she said. “Companies will get better, more energized workers when they return.”