M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee
FROM: Christina M. Renna, Senior Vice President, CCSNJ
RE: S-2528 (Sweeney/Diegnan/Ruiz)
DATE: January 28, 2019
The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey opposes S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan), which would greatly expand New Jersey’s paid family leave law.
Unfortunately, the CCSNJ must oppose yet another bill that mandates by legislating – not negotiating – an employee benefit that should be left up to the business owner to determine. S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) continues the legacy of the current paid family leave law by imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on businesses, with no consideration of the many differences that exist between industry types, the financial ability of businesses to comply, nor the creative ways in which these businesses already accommodate employee needs. The lack of flexibility that will result from passage of this bill will be detrimental to CCSNJ members, their employees and lead to an undoubted loss of productivity, and reduced competitiveness in a state that is notoriously expensive in which to operate.
The bill would do as follows:
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) would increase the number of employers covered under the act by requiring businesses with 30 employees – down from 50 – to provide paid family leave.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) would double the amount of time that paid family leave could be taken from six to 12 weeks in a one-year period. This would also double the amount of time business owners would have to find coverage for the absent employee, turning to other employees and paying overtime, hiring temporary employees, employing technology to do the absent employee’s job or simply losing productivity while the employee is out on leave.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) increases the benefit level for Family Leave Insurance (FLI) and all Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) – not just those related to pregnancy/childbirth.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) would increase the weekly benefit amount by 85% with a new maximum weekly payment of approximately $900. Currently, the paid family leave program is funded through employee payroll deductions that are entered into the State’s Temporary Disability Insurance Fund. Although the bill does call for changing the funding mechanism, it is unclear whether the current employee payroll tax rate will generate enough money to cover the higher dollar amount, longer benefit time and the expanded reasons for the leave, which will undoubtedly result in wider use.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) would expand the amount of intermittent leave from 42 days to 52 days. Tracking intermittent leave is already extremely difficult for businesses, especially small and mid-sized businesses that do not have a Human Resources department. Intermittent leave is disruptive to business operations as staffing and the ability to work efficiently is inconsistent.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) greatly expands the definition of family member for which an employee can take leave to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, any blood relative and any individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee, which is the equivalent of a family member. This is similar to a provision recently signed into law – the “paid sick leave” legislation. The CCSNJ believes that expanding the current definition of “family member” in the current paid family leave statute would allow additional opportunities for employees to avail themselves of the leave without any requirement that the employee provide proof to the employer that they are utilizing the leave for its intended purpose.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) permits an employee that holds multiple jobs to receive FLI benefits for one job, while continuing other employment.
- S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan) strengthens employee retaliation provisions against their employer. These provisions are similar to those included in the “paid sick leave” legislation and would essentially tie employers’ hands in dealing with problem employees and malingering.
This proposal will not only increase the cost and complexity of doing business in New Jersey, but also will make our state an even less competitive environment for businesses to grow and thrive.
For these reasons, we urge you to oppose S-2528 (Sweeney/Ruiz/Diegnan).