New Jersey became one of only three states to offer family medical leave today when Gov. Corzine signed the long-awaited Family Leave Insurance bill today. As I discussed in a previous post, the United States severely lacks the focus on the family unit that other countries, like Canada and most European nations, display through policies that permit, and dare I say even encourage, both Moms and Dads to spend valuable time at home with a new baby.
Don't freak out!! This isn't socialism. It will be NJ employees, not the government, footing the bill for this program through a mandatory payroll tax of a little more than $30 a year per worker (or about 1/2 of what I pay per year for the privilege of working in a certain township in PA - a cost that nets me absolutely nothing year after year).
Opponents of this bill point to the negative impact on small business as a reason to stay away from universally-available leave programs like this one. While an increased failure rate in the small biz community is the last thing I want to see, this bill is necessary to ensure families are provided with the ability to spend time, albeit a small ration of QT, with a newborn and still receive a paycheck (up to 2/3 of their regular wages).
Way to go NJ! Hopefully this starts a trend and we see other states pushing forward with similar legislation and eventually rolling out even more generous programs allowing parents to, you know, parent their young children a bit from birth before shipping them off to a local daycare facility.