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Menendez questions witnesses about how New Jersey’s paid leave program can be an example for the rest of the country

The Senator explained how Latino families disproportionately lack access to paid leave, and asked how a national paid leave program would positively impact Latino workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Wednesday questioned witnesses during a Senate Finance Committee hearing to explore the impact a national paid leave program would have on the American workforce.

The Senator asked Ms. Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, what are the biggest successes and lessons from New Jersey’s paid leave program that should be considered as Congress pushes for national paid leave legislation.

“I’m proud to represent the great state of New Jersey, which was the second state in the country to pass a paid family leave program in 2008, and then our state expanded the program in 2019. Our paid leave program has helped countless families,” Menendez said. “In 71 percent of all New Jersey households with children – more than 1.3 million homes – all parents have paying jobs. And more than 100,000 children are born each year in New Jersey. The state legislation created a paid leave program that guarantees all workers 12 weeks of family leave, with the lowest wage workers receiving 85% of their pay, and this legislation I believe should be an example for the country.”

Sen. Menendez highlighted his original cosponsorship of Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would guarantee all workers access to 12 weeks of paid leave, and how he looks forward to working with her to make this legislation happen. The Senator explained how Latino families disproportionately lack access to paid leave, and asked Ms. Frye why national paid leave legislation is so vital for Latino families.

“Latinos and Latinas are far less likely to have access to paid leave than others. Nationally, Latinos are 66 percent less likely to have paid leave compared to white workers. This inequality makes it harder for Latinos to spend time with a new child or take care of a sick parent,” Menendez said. “To add insult to injury, it also forces many Latinas to drop out of the workforce altogether when they have a child, contributing to the monumental wage gap we see between Latinas and white men. As we know, it takes a Latina worker an average of two years to equal what white, non-Hispanic males are paid in one year.”

Sen. Menendez concluded by asking Mr. Ben Verhoeven, President of Peoria Gardens, Inc., what the biggest success of the Oregon paid leave program has been for his business, Peoria Gardens.

“You similarly talk about the benefits of paid leave as a small business owner. Of course, when an employee is away it causes strains on a small business, it is far worse if an employee is forced to leave the business because of a lack of family and medical leave,” Menendez said.

In May, Sen. Menendez cosponsored the introduction of Sen. Gillibrand’s Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. This legislation creates a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program to ensure every worker has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, especially new parents and older Americans who are more likely to have health issues or caregiving obligations for older relatives.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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