Gov. Christie Vetoes Expansion of New Jersey Family Leave Benefits

August 7, 2017
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Under Proposed Legislation, Gov. Christie Vetoed a Bill That Would Have Significantly Expanded New Jersey Family Leave Benefits

New Jersey employers will not incur any additional paid family leave obligations, at least under proposed state legislation. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have significantly expanded the state’s paid leave program.

Gov Chris Christie Vetoes Bill That Would Expand New Jersey Family Leave

Photo courtesy of Stocksnap.io

Proposed Changes to New Jersey Paid Family Leave 

New Jersey is one of the few states in the country to require employers to provide paid family leave. The Family Leave Act allows workers to take up to six weeks of paid leave during any 12-month period in the form of state temporary disability insurance benefits. Employees on paid leave receive two-thirds of their salary, to a maximum of $677 per week. 

As more fully detailed in a prior article, the New Jersey Legislature approved Assembly Bill No. 4927/Senate Bill. No. 3085, which would have increased the maximum number of family disability leave weeks from 6 to 12. It would have also expanded the maximum amount that covered workers could collect in benefits to $932 per week.

Gov. Christie Argues Bill Would Hurt Business

In rejecting the proposed expansion of the state’s paid leave benefits, Gov. Christie cited the potential burdens on the business community. He wrote in his veto message:

When individuals need to take time off from work, business owners are responsible for ensuring that their businesses continue operating. This legislation would make it increasingly difficult and expensive to run a business, especially a small business, which may not be able to absorb the short-term absence of an essential employee or have the tools to compete for short-term employment coverage. As with similar ‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation that has reached my desk, this bill may force businesses to limit hiring, relocate, or even close.

Gov. Christie also argued that the legislation was not in the best interest of taxpayers. “This bill is a costly expansion, especially to the Paid Family Leave program, that will result in increased taxes to be paid by working citizens in New Jersey,” he wrote. “The sponsors of this bill have attempted to placate the numerous concerns raised about the fiscal impact of this bill by assuring that it can be done without raising the payroll tax used to support the same. However, the ‘facts’ supporting that assertion are flimsy at best and put the burden for their mistake, as usual, on the taxpayers.”

Citing that the proposed legislation “does little to address” the public’s “lack of knowledge of the program,” Gov. Christie recommended that “the bill be amended to focus directly on raising awareness of the benefits currently available.”

What’s Next?

Given that Gov. Christie’s conditions remove most of the substantive changes to the state’s family leave program, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Stephen Sweeney both indicated that they may try again to pass the bill after he leaves office.

Gubernatorial frontrunner Phil Murphy supported the bill. “Expanding paid family leave would ensure families will be able to care for a loved one without having to worry. It is the compassionate and fair thing to do for working families,” he wrote on his Facebook page prior to Gov. Christie’s conditional veto. “It’s now been more than three weeks since this bill landed on the governor’s desk, and it cannot collect any more dust. I urge the governor to sign this bill and to give countless New Jersey families the peace of mind they deserve.”

Do you have any questions? Would you like to discuss the matter further? If so, please contact me, Ramon Rivera, at 201-806-3364.