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Expanded Family Leave Bill Clears General Assembly

700,000 Workers Would Gain Access to Family Leave Under Quijano, Reynolds-Jackson, Coughlin and Moriarty-Sponsored Bill

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey General Assembly today approved legislation that would expand New Jersey’s Family Leave Act by lowering the number of employees a business can have before it is required to offer family leave. This would significantly increase the number of individuals who must be given time off to care for a sick relative or a newborn child, a child who was recently adopted, or a child who was placed from foster care.

Currently, employers with 30 or more employees must offer employees the right to be reinstated after they take family leave to care for a child or an elderly relative. Bill A-5166, sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, and Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, would gradually lower the threshold to employers with five or more employees.

This would enable more than 700,000 people to gain job protection, according to estimates from the Office of Legislative Services.

“The number of people helped by this bill reaches far beyond just the individual workers,” said Assemblywoman Quijano (D-Union). “For every employee that benefits from A-5166, even more New Jerseyans – parents, children, siblings – would benefit as well.”

Speaker Coughlin testified in favor of the bill before the Assembly Labor Committee last month.

“Study after study shows that expanding the Family Leave Act is good for the workforce, good for babies and families, and good for the state overall,” Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said. “No one should have to choose between caring for, or bonding with, a newborn child and remaining employed. The legislation advanced today would help ensure that the vast majority of workers never will.”

“Workers in multi-generational families face tough choices on a regular basis, but deciding to take time off to care for a sick relative or a newborn child should not come with the added pressure of worrying if they will have a job to return to,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “This meaningful piece of legislation is designed to remove that barrier for anyone who works somewhere that has five or more employees and wants to spend time focused on their families.”

In adding to helping individuals in the workforce, expanding family leave would also benefit the state’s economy overall.

“Our economy works best when our workforce benefits from more family-friendly policies,” said Assemblyman Moriarty (D-Gloucester). “People who aren’t forced to decide between their families and their jobs are far more likely to stay with their jobs longer. Broadening the number of people who can take advantage of the Family Leave Act will strengthening our economy and our state as a whole.”