More than 60 percent of New Jerseyans are unaware of the state’s Family Leave Insurance program, which allows employees to take paid family leave of up to six weeks for the birth of a child or a sick family member, according to a new poll conducted by Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute. The program is funded through a payroll deduction made by all workers. Since 2009, when the fund was created, 100,000 claims have been approved and $225 million in benefits have been distributed.
About 19 percent of respondents told pollsters they’ve taken leave from work due to a new child or to care for a family member since 2009. But only 45 percent of those who took leave received pay during their leave.
State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) is sponsoring legislation that would require both employers and healthcare providers to take a more proactive approach to disseminating information about the program, including requiring employers to notify employees of it twice a year. The state Department of Labor would be required to create brochures for healthcare providers to distribute.
More than half of union households (52 percent) responding to the poll said they were aware of the program, the largest of any group. The wealthier the household, the more likely they were to be aware of it as well. About 49 percent of those earning $100,000 or more said they knew of the program, while less than 35 percent of families earning less than $50,000 a year knew of it.