Paid Family Leave
Two weeks ago New Jersey became the third state (California and Washington being the others) to pass into law a bill requiring companies to offer paid leave to employees. The benefit will operate in a similar fashion to state disability benefits in that all employees will contribute an additional amount from their paychecks to help pay for this benefit.
Employees who are caring for a newborn or a newly adopted child are eligible. In addition, however, employees caring for a sick family member can take the leave, which can be as much as 6 weeks. Companies are concerned about the impact the law will have on their businesses if key employees exercise this option.
The law highlights what has become increasingly obvious, that as our population ages more people are caring for elderly loved ones than ever before. 77 million baby boomers will be reaching senior status in the next 20 years. While the paid leave bill, attempts to, in some way, address the crisis, it is clearly not the best approach. Employees who must take time off from work are dealing at that point with a full blown long term care crisis. It often begins with a call that Mom or Dad is in the hospital, then leads to the need for nursing home care, home based care or assisted living care. It is never best to deal with a problem when it has reached the critical stage.
The better approach is to address long term care issues before they arise, in what we call the preplanning stage. Usually, the signs of aging can be seen long before the crisis hits. If families can sit down and, with the assistance of an elder care attorney and other elder care professionals, prepare a plan before the need arises, chances are the employee will not need to take leave, or perhaps may need to take less time off. Preplanning also reduces stress levels for all involved and leads to better care.