More than one in five New Jersey workers can still be fired for taking family leave to bond with a new child or take care of a loved one due to a loophole in the state’s paid family leave laws, according to a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).
The report outlines how job protection for family leave is covered by a different law from paid family leave, and they each have their own eligibility criteria. This loophole undermines the state’s paid family leave program by deterring workers from taking paid leave that they’re entitled to.
“All workers deserve the opportunity to bond with their children or care for their loved ones without fear of termination, demotion, or retaliation,” said Peter Chen, Senior Policy Analyst at NJPP and report author. “Right now, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans do not have job protection, making paid family leave a risk they can’t afford to take.”
According to the report, nearly 840,000 New Jersey workers work at an employer that can fire them for taking family leave. These workers may be paying into the state’s paid family leave system but be unable to take the time they are owed without being punished by their employer.
Businesses that can fire employees for taking leave make up 90 percent of all New Jersey businesses.
“For the state’s family leave program to work as intended, job protection must go hand in hand with paid leave for all New Jersey workers,” said Chen in the report.
The report, released days before Father’s Day, recommends that lawmakers close this loophole and ensure that workers can take time to be with their new children or care for their loved ones.