God, I hate doing my taxes. But as I was compiling my receipts, 1099s and I040s, I saw something interesting on my Fairleigh Dickinson University W2 form. It was a listing of the amount deducted from my paychecks last year as part of New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance program. It was all of $28.
New Jersey is one of three states (New York may be next!) to provide paid family and medical leave. And like California and Rhode Island, this benefit is funded through a small payroll deduction into a state-wide insurance fund. Simply put, everyone pays in a small amount, and then, when one needs a family-related (most commonly a maternity or paternity leave) or medical leave (care for self or for a family member), they can draw from this insurance fund for wage replacement of two-thirds of one’s income, up to $604 per week, during the 6-week leave.
This funding mechanism is really smart. Employers are not penalized by having to pay employees who are not there to work. Instead, their only cost is having to provide the time off and holding the position open.
Further, as Family Leave Insurance covers a wide range of situations, everyone pays in and everyone can potentially benefit. Even those who don’t use this program have the peace of mind that they are covered in case of emergency. I’m reminded of the saying- the best insurance is insurance you never have to use.
As this is not just a parental leave policy, it also covers those who may be hospitalized, those who need to care for spouses, and those who care for their elder parents. It covers everyone, and it applies equally to men and women.
And all it costs is about $28 a year. A pretty good investment if you ask me.
I think this model should be applied nationwide, as it provides an important social benefit while minimizing costs to employers. If you agree, please contact your representatives in Congress or in your Statehouse, or at least sign this petition.
What do you think about Family Leave Insurance? Any stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments.
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