Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Leave in NJ is Running a Surplus

BabyIn 2008, a paid family leave bill passed in New Jersey, despite warnings that businesses would leave the state and employees would abuse the system.  So far, the warnings have been unfounded, and the family leave law has done so well that it is now recording a surplus.

According to an editorial in The Star-Ledger, the maximum amount that will be deducted from employee paychecks to pay for the program will be $17 for the year, which is half of the maximum amount deducted in the previous year.

Approximately 37,000 New Jersey workers have used the program since its inception in July 2009, receiving $83 million to offset lost wages while they bonded with new children or cared for seriously ill family members. Despite this use, the fund has grown to $50 million, providing the opportunity for a tax cut this year that will put $57 million back in the New Jersey economy. (Of course, since most families probably use paid family leave to pay for food, housing, and other necessities while they take time off work, the $83 million spent so far on the program is money that otherwise may not have been available in the economy.)

While paid family leave is still in early stages in New Jersey, workers are benefiting from the program at a lower cost than originally expected, while few if any businesses have left the state or complained about the program's actual impact.  As The Star-Ledger notes, economic security programs for families "needn't bust the budget.  Or strangle common sense."  Just one more reason why other common sense programs, such as earned sick time, are right for employers and families.

If you want to take action on earned sick time, please take a minute to sign our petition, write a letter to the editor, and/or sign up for our letter-writing party on December 7!

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