Corzine signs paid family leave

Gov. Jon S. Corzine Saturday officially signed into law legislation that will provide workers with up to six weeks of paid benefits when taking leave from employment for family needs, in what the bill’s many Democratic sponsors are calling a major victory for New Jersey’s working families.

“The signing of this bill ushers in a new day for New Jersey’s workforce, in that it gives hard-working parents and caregivers the time they need to take care of the family members who rely on them the most,” said Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem, in a statement last week.

With the passage of the bill, workers will begin contributing .14 percent of earned wages to the State Disability Fund starting January 1, 2009. Those funds will be in turn placed into a special goverment account reserved solely for use in paid family leave cases.

The contribution would amount to around 25 cents per week for employees making minimum wage.

That money can be disbursed to employees taking up to six weeks of leave in any 12-month period to take care of sick family members, or a newborn or newly adopted child. Employees are eligible to receive up to two-thirds of their weekly salary, up to $524, starting on July 1 next year.

New Jersey is only the third state to approve such legislation, with California already having the system in place and Washington set to begin implementing a similar program next year.

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