N.J. workers, employers benefit from family leave law, Rutgers study finds

A Rutgers University study has found that New Jersey’s paid family leave law helps workers as well as cutting turnover for employers.

In place since 2009, the law requires Garden State employers to provide workers with paid leave to care for seriously ill family members, newborns or newly adopted children. The Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, which analyzed federal Department of Labor statistics, found that women who take paid leave are about 40 percent less likely to receive public assistance or receive food stamps in the year after giving birth in comparison with those who did not take any leave. Linda Houser, the assistant professor at Widener University professor who wrote the report, said the research also shows that women who use paid leave are far more likely to be working nine to 12 months after a child’s birth than those who do not take any leave.

“We’re looking at a situation where businesses have an opportunity to reduce their costs by retaining talent,” said Houser. “And think about public assistance — if we find reduced spending among those who are taking leave, that’s a good thing for the economy as a whole.”

“As more women enter the workforce, there is an increased need for family-friendly policies like paid family leave,” said Karen White, director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers. “This research provides answers to some important questions about the economic impact of paid family leave on families, businesses and the public.”

Paid leave is funded through a payroll tax and administered through New Jersey’s temporary disability program. The study was commissioned by the National Partnership for Women & Families with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. The National Partnership is a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. that advocates paid leave and family-friendly policies.

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