New Jersey expands paid family leave for new parents and caregivers

PISCATAWAY, N.J.  — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a new law increasing paid family leave. Employees will now be able to take 12 paid weeks of—instead of the former 6 weeks—to bond with a new baby or care for a sick loved one.

"My daughter could only afford to take of a day here and day there," said lung cancer survivor, Permelia Toney-Boss. "And so she was there only part of the time and that was really hard."

While New Jersey's pre-existing family leave law did benefit Yarrow Willman-Cole.

"I was also able to breastfeed," she said, "which is difficult for many moms who have to return back to work too soon."

Beginning July 1, 2020, new moms and dads will be able to take 3 paid months off in New Jersey. Family members will get paid more while on leave to care for a loved one, bumping wages from 66.7 to 85 percent of a worker’s pay. The law will provide job protection for employees at companies with 30 or more workers.

"And this bill expands who is family, which actually answers the realities of the day," said assemblywoman and bill sponsor Annette Quijano (D-Union).

The law also expands the reasons one can take paid family leave. For example, victims of sexual assault can now take the paid time off they need to seek treatment and counseling.

But New Jersey’s business community will bear the burden, paying more for overtime and hiring more temporary workers.

The state’s business and industry association stated today:

“Once again, small business in New Jersey has been hit with another costly mandate seemingly without any thought or concern of the cumulative impacts of the other mandates already placed on their backs," said Michele Siekerka, NJBIA President, "like expanded paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage, as well as the highest business taxes in the nation."

To that, Murphy said today: a happy workforce is a more productive workforce.

“No one should ever be forced to choose between caring for a family member and earning a paycheck,” said the Governor. “By providing the most expansive paid family leave time and benefits in the nation, we are ensuring that New Jerseyans no longer have to face such a decision..."

This law will not take full effect until July 1, 2020.

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