Important Changes Coming for New Jersey Family Leave Laws
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed a law that will greatly expand the benefits available to employees under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (SAFE Act), and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Act, which provides New Jersey employees with temporary family leave insurance (FLI).
Changes that effect all three laws immediately include the following:
The definition of “parent” now includes foster parents and those who become parents “pursuant to a valid written agreement between the parent and a gestational carrier,” and the definition of “family leave” includes care for foster children and children who are born “pursuant to a valid written agreement between the parent and a gestational carrier.”
The definition of “family member” now includes a child age 18 or older, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, parents-in-law, domestic partners, any individuals related to the employee by blood, as well as “any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
Amendments to the New Jersey Family Leave Act include:
- Employees may take leave intermittently for up to 12 consecutive months instead of 24 consecutive weeks.
- Employees do not have to seek employer approval to take intermittent leave to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child.
- Expansion of the law’s coverage to employers with at least 30 employees (rather than 50) on the payroll for at least 20 workweeks per calendar year.
Amendments to the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Act include:
- Benefits are available for family leave to care for a child regardless of age.
- An employer is no longer permitted to require an employee to use paid leave accruals before applying for FLI benefits.
- Non-unionized employers may purchase private insurance policies to cover temporary disability and FLI benefits without obtaining the consent of the majority of their employees.
- The seven-day waiting period before an employee is eligible for FLI benefits is eliminated.
- The maximum weekly benefit will increase from $650 to $860 (or 85% of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum of 70% of the Statewide average weekly wage).
- The number of weeks for which an employee can receive FLI benefits will double from the current six (6) weeks to 12 weeks for consecutive leave, and the amount of permitted intermittent leave will increase from 42 days to 56 days.