- New Jersey Implements Expanded Family Leave Act & Insurance Legislation August 17, 2019
This summer, new family leave legislation went into effect in New Jersey. Both the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance law (NJFLI) were amended and the changes will affect employers and employees in organizations large and small.
What is the law?
Generally, family leave laws exist both federally and locally in order to protect employees when they need to take leaves of absence from work to care for loved ones for certain medical reasons. In New Jersey, the NJFLA provides employees with job protection when they need to take covered family leave while the NJFLI offers monetary benefits to employees during their leave period. As New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy exclaimed, “no one should ever be forced to choose between caring for a family member and earning a paycheck.” Governor Murphy reaffirmed his commitment to paid family leave in the state by signing expanded versions of the NJFLA and NJFLI into law.
So What Changed?
The new legislation is sweeping and the changes are extensive. For example, the new law redefines the term “family member.” Family leave can now be taken when caring for siblings, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren, other blood relatives, and any other individuals who can be shown to have the equivalent of a family relationship. Family leave is also now available for employees in circumstances arising out of domestic violence or sexual violence such as if a family member or even the employee his or herself was the victim of such violence.
Importantly, smaller companies now qualify as covered employers under the law. Formerly, only employers with 50 or more employees were required to comply with the NJFLA, but now the law covers qualified companies with 30 or more employees, whether they are all employed in New Jersey or not. This means New Jersey state law is now more expansive and covers more employers than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
The newly enacted NJFLI doubles the eligible paid leave time for employees, beginning in July 2020. Currently, employees can only take up to six weeks of paid family leave during a 12-month period but starting next year, employees will be able to take up to 12 consecutive weeks of paid family leave in a 12-month period.
Also, under the amended NJFLI, employees can now receive 85 percent of their weekly wage, with the maximum possible benefit going up to 70 percent of the statewide average weekly wage.
What Does This Mean for You?
The above is just a summary of the new legislation, as it is comprehensive. If you are a New Jersey employer, make sure to consult with employment counsel so that your company’s employee handbooks, forms, notices, postering, and other company policies are in compliance with the amended version of the law.
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