More Money, More Problems? New Jersey Significantly Expanding Family Leave Benefits

Thomas J. Szymanski

The bill (NJ A3975), revamping the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”) and Family Leave Insurance (“FLI”), was passed in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature on January 31, 2019. Governor Murphy is expected to sign the bill today, with some changes effective immediately.

As a reminder, NJFLA provides job-protected leave for workers at large employers to care for family members. On the other hand, FLI provides wage-replacement benefits to workers during a leave used to care for a family member. FLI applies regardless of the size of the employer and is funded by employee payroll deductions.

Summary of the most significant changes:

Coverage

  • Definition of family member expanded from children, parents, spouses, and civil union partners to also include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, domestic partners, “any other individual related by blood to the employee,” and even close friends who are “the equivalent of” family.
  • Leave can be taken to assist a family member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.
  • Effective immediately.

Job Protections

  • Job protections expanded to cover workers at employers with at least 30 employees, rather than the current minimum of 50 employees.
  • Effective June 30, 2019.

Paid Time Off

  • Consecutive leave doubled from 6 weeks to 12 weeks.
  • Intermittent leave increased from 42 days to 56 days.
  • Effective July 1, 2020.

Financial Benefits

  • Wage replacement levels increased from up to 66.7 percent to up to 85 percent of a worker’s average weekly earnings.
  • Cap on wage replacement amount estimated to increase from $650 to $860 per week.
  • Effective July 1, 2020.

As violations of these laws carry significant penalties in New Jersey, you should contact a member of Blank Rome’s labor & employment practice group if you have any questions about compliance with New Jersey’s leave laws or any other leave issues.

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