Despite its reputation as a mob-controlled, polluted swamp that’s given the world Springsteen and not much else, New Jersey is actually a pretty pleasant place to live. And it’s going to be even better thanks to its best-in-the-country paid family leave law.
Last Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill, A3975, that will double its previously mandated paid leave. Starting in July 2020, new parents in New Jersey will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave during any 12-month period. It also allows people to take the same amount of time off to care for a sick relative.
The bill also increases the weekly benefit for those utilizing paid family leave to 85 percent of an employee’s weekly wage, up to 70 percent of the statewide average weekly rate. Effectively, that means New Jerseyians can make $850 a week instead of $650 under the new law.
New Jersey first enacted a paid family leave program in 2008. Only three other states — New York, Rhode Island, and California — offer the benefit. Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia are set to roll out their plans, which range from four to 12 weeks of paid family leave, either this year or next.
States have had to step in because the United States is the only OECD country that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave nationwide. There is a bad proposal that requires parents to loot their future Social Security payments to pay for family leave.
The U.S. deserves a comprehensive family leave program that ensures that all new parents have the option to take time off to care for a newborn without forgoing a paycheck. Until that day comes, states like New Jersey are stepping up for their residents.