EDISON – On Friday, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) announced legislation to ensure that every New Jersey worker knows about the state’s Paid Family Leave program, and began a district-wide outreach campaign through her office.
“Too many New Jerseyans are unaware of their ability to utilize this program,” said Buono. “We need to do something about that. We need to increase awareness.”
“When the legislation was drafted, a provision authorized Department of Labor to actively communicate this information to employees throughout New Jersey. But it’s not happening,” said Buono. “This bill will make sure it happens.”
Yet while the law currently authorizes the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to communicate information about the program to employees across the state beyond simply maintaining information on its website, the efforts have not been funded in this year’s budget.
Currently, New Jersey employers are charged with the responsibility of notifying employees of the program, but Buono’s bill takes awareness a step further by extending notification requirements to medical offices and other facilities where people are likely to be eligible. It will require that information be posted in plain sight and provided by brochure in both English and Spanish to patients and visitors in these facilities.
“Employer notification alone isn’t enough. Information needs to be made readily available in physician offices, hospitals, long term care facilities, nursing homes, senior centers, veterans homes – the kinds of places that people visit when they are likely to be eligible for these benefits,” said Buono.
Buono also began an awareness campaign through her district office, notifying her constituents via email and regular mail about the Paid Family Leave program and providing the contact information for those who wish to apply.
“In these tough economic times, no one should have to choose between financial stability and caring for a new child or ill family member,” said Buono. “It is important that new mothers, fathers, and family care givers know that they have this option.”