On May 2, 2008, New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine, signed into law a program that will allow employees to take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or a sick child, spouse, parent, or domestic or civil union partner.

New Jersey is the third state in the country to pass a paid family leave law, after California in 2002 and Washington in 2007. The law will apply to all private and public employers subject to the state unemployment compensation law, regardless of size.

The program is slated to begin on January 1, 2009, and employees will be able to start taking paid leave on July 1, 2009.

The law extends New Jersey’s temporary disability insurance program and will be financed through payroll deductions. Employees will receive two-thirds of their usual wages, up to a maximum of $546 per week for 2009.

Leave under this program will run concurrently with leave taken under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or its state equivalent, the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). Also, employers can require employees to use at least two weeks of sick leave or vacation time before taking paid leave under the program.

Employees who are not covered under the NJFLA and FMLA because they work for employers with fewer than 50 employees will be able to take paid leave under the program as well. However, these employees will not be entitled to job protection or return rights.