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Casagrande seeks to make businesses more family friendly

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The Assembly’s Republican women are putting forth a plan they say would aid working parents while also growing the state's economy.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Freehold) was joined by her legislative colleagues and members of the business community Thursday as she announced a pair of bills designed to make the state's businesses more family friendly.

“We know these proposals are great for the New Jersey economy,” Casagrande said. “When we increase the productivity of our employees, when we increase the ability for businesses to keep their best employees, when we decrease turnover but we increase wages, it’s going to help grow the GDP in New Jersey, and we’re thrilled about that.”

Casagrande’s bills are the result of a series of panel discussions held between female legislators and businesswomen last year. The legislation is designed to give parents the benefits and flexibility necessary to stay in the workforce while raising their children, with the goal of eventually erasing the wage gap that tends to develop between male and female colleagues.

Casagrande noted that while 53 percent of the entering workforce in New Jersey is female, only about 19 percent of C-Suite officers are female.

The first bill would create a 50-percent tax credit for employers that offer childcare assistance.

“We know from study after study that it’s going to reduce missed work days and it’s going to make employees more likely to stay with the company,” she said.

New Jersey previously had a 20-percent tax credit, but Casagrande said eligibility limitations resulted in low participation.

Casagrande’s new proposal not only increases the amount of the credit, but also greatly expands eligibility so companies can take advantage of the tax credit regardless of the childcare provider or the size of the company.

The second bill, dubbed the “New Jersey Family First Act,” would set up a voluntary recognition program designed to encourage companies to adopt family-friendly policies.

Companies that meet a set of benchmarks would be designated as “Family First” employers, and could publicize the designation in marketing materials and help wanted advertisements.

If enacted, Casagrande said the bills would make New Jersey the most working parent-friendly state in the nation.

“It will also unleash the full talent of our workforce, because that is one thing that came out of our panels time and time again,” she said. “…When we force people to make the hard choice to either have a family or stay at work, we do have a huge talent loss from our workforce.”

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