New Jersey's paid family leave measure received final legislative approval today in the state Senate.
The bill, which already cleared the Assembly, was approved in a 21-15 vote.
"I know this type of leave time is necessary because I've been there myself," said Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, (D., Gloucester), referring to the birth of his 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, who remained in intensive care for 75 days after she was born. "In my case, I had an understanding employer, but I can't say the same for all of New Jersey's workers."
The bill heads to Gov. Corzine's desk; the governor has announced his support for the measure.
California and Washington are the only other states that have approved paid family leave.
New Jersey's version would offer workers up to six weeks' leave to care for sick family members and newborn or adopted children. During the last legislative session, another version of the bill, which would have offered up to 10 weeks of paid leave, failed to clear the legislature.
The current bill would offer workers leave at two-thirds of their salary, up to $504 per week, for six weeks. Workers would pay for the program through payroll deductions, which would cost an estimated $33 per year. Workers would be limited to one leave per 12-month period.
Federal law mandates most employers give workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, although companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.
The business community -- along with many Republican lawmakers -- staunchly opposed the New Jersey bill. Many say the economy is too weak for businesses to withstand an additional burden.
On Friday, the state Chamber of Commerce released the results of a study that found that the state's nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services "is overly optimistic about the long-term solvency of the program and its ultimate impact on employees."