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New Jersey Governor Signs Paid Family Leave Bill

May 5, 2008
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New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine on Friday, May 2, signed legislation that will entitle employees in the state to take up to six weeks of paid leave per year after the birth or adoption of a child or to take care of a seriously ill relative.

Under the new law, which will go into effect next year, parents can take paid leave anytime during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. Employees also can take leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner receiving inpatient care in a health care facility or under continuing supervision of a health care provider.

While on leave, employees will receive payments from a state fund to replace two-thirds of their salary, up to a maximum of $524 a week. Lawmakers expect employees, on average, to collect weekly benefits of $415.

An employee who applies for paid leave will be eligible for benefits after a waiting period of seven consecutive days. Employers can require an employee to take up to two weeks of unused vacation time before receiving the paid family leave, one week of which would be used to cover the waiting period.

The new benefit will be fully funded through employee payroll deductions, the size of which would be based on salary, with a maximum annual contribution of $33 per employee per year.

Employees’ contributions are to begin starting January 1, while benefits are to be available beginning July 1, 2009.

New Jersey is the third state to enact paid family leave legislation. California passed a similar measure in 2002 and Washington state last year approved a bill that gives employees up to five weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, though that law has not yet gone into effect.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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