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Senate committee votes to expand family leave

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The measure, SB2528, passed with a 3-1 vote with one abstention during the Thursday morning vote in the Senate Labor Committee.
The measure, SB2528, passed with a 3-1 vote with one abstention during the Thursday morning vote in the Senate Labor Committee. - ()

A new proposal passing through the state Senate would expand the state's family leave program by doubling how long someone could claim benefits, boost the amount paid and expand the definition of eligible family members.

The measure, Senate Bill 2528, passed with a 3-1 vote with one abstention during the Thursday morning vote in the Senate Labor Committee. It was sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, along with Sens. Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District, and Patrick Diegnan, D-18th District.

Under the measure, the period of Family Leave Insurance (FLI) and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) would expand from six to 12 weeks to pay for the care of a newborn or sick family member. It also covers victims of sexual and domestic violence and their families.

Under the bill, a claimant’s payment would increase from two-thirds of their average weekly wage, to 90 percent of that wage, provided they earn less than the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW) of $1,203.43.

Any person who earns more than that would be capped at 100 percent of the SAWW amount. The current compensation rate is 53 percent of the SAWW, or $637.

FLI and TDI family eligibility would expand to siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law and “others related by blood or relationship equivalent to a family relationship,” according to the legislation.

Employers with more than 30 workers would be prohibited from retaliatory dismissing employee-claimants. That’s down from the current 50-employee threshold.

That still was not enough for several groups that testified, including the AFL-CIO and New Jersey Citizen Action, which argued that there shouldn’t be any exemption whatsoever.

It also drew out the opposition from groups like the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which argued the rule would put undue costs on employers and the “broad anti-retaliatory language” would open them up to frivolous litigation.

The South Jersey Chamber of Commerce argued that the bill was well-intended, but would drive up business costs and taxes, while lowering productivity.

S2528 was among a trio of bills that moved forward during the committee meeting, all of which concerned paid family leave.

One bill would expand the data collected on TDI recipients to include gross wages of workers, labor union membership, race, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship status, educational attainment level, whether they work for a private or governmental employer and intermittent usage of family leave benefits and the location of employers.

Another would increase the amount of compensation available to a claimant who lost the use of a hand or foot.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz


Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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Michael Falcone May 11, 2018 5:07 pm

Tell the Governor to STOP giving our money away and give the OVERTAXED New Jersey Middle Class a tax break.

Greg May 10, 2018 4:02 pm

So far from Murphy and the Democrats - I have seen more giveaways at taxpayers expense - I have also seen companies like Mercedes and other leave NJ along with thousands of jobs- but not one mention of Murphy doing anything to keep or grow good paying jobs in NJ. It is easy to give things away - especially if you can have someone else pay. The hard work is growing an economy.

Sam May 10, 2018 4:16 pm

We can plan on more taxation to pay for this. What a bunch of idiots.

Adam Smith May 10, 2018 4:23 pm

One more step towards becoming the Marxist State of Jersey. The day is approaching when they will run out of other peoples money.

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