Currently, under the state’s Family Leave Insurance provision of the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law, cash benefits may be payable for up to six weeks to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child or to provide care for a seriously ill family member.
The program is financed 100% by worker payroll deductions and employers do not contribute to the program. However, workers who wish to bond with a newborn child must give an employer 30 days’ notice before the leave starts. Six weeks is the maximum anyone can receive in a 12 month period to bond with a newborn child.
“At some point, nearly everyone will need to take time away from work to deal with a serious personal or family illness, or to care for a new child,” said McCormick. “Unfortunately, only 13 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have access to personal medical leave through short-term disability insurance like New Jersey’s.”
"Laws providing paid family and medical leave allow workers to meet their health and family needs without jeopardizing their economic security,” said McCormick. “This is very common for workers in Europe and evidence suggests it is beneficial for both employees and businesses.”
McCormick said the poll is being conducted to get a sense of whether the issue is understood among residents who should help make it a priority.
In New Jersey, workers filed nearly 217,000 leave claims between the family leave insurance program’s implementation in 2009 and December 2015 – more than 176,000 filed by parents seeking time to bond with a new child.
Polling shows that three out of four workers (76.4 percent) say they view the program favorably, and support crosses gender, race/ethnicity, age, marital status, union affiliation, employment status and income. The majority of both small and large New Jersey businesses say they have adjusted easily.
McCormick said there is a desire among many Americans to implement a federal program but it has met strong resistance from right wing ideologues and super-rich political influence buyers.