A new bill seeking to expand paid family leave in New Jersey passed the Senate and Assembly on January 31, 2019, and was signed by Governor Phil Murphy today. The bill makes sweeping changes to the New Jersey Family Leave Act that provides greater benefits for more employees. Following are some highlights of the bill:
- As of June 30, 2019, the definition of a covered employer would include those with 30 employees, as opposed to 50 employees, for each calendar day of 20 or more calendar workweeks.
- The definition of “parent” is now expanded to include foster parents and those who became parents via a gestational carrier. Likewise, the definition of “family leave” is now expanded to include care for foster children and children who are born via a gestational carrier.
- The definition of “family member” is now expanded to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, parents-in-law, domestic partners, any individuals related to the employee by blood, and more broadly, “any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.” This expanded definition would align with the definition of a covered family member under the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.
- Employees are now eligible to take leave under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”) to care for any of the aforementioned individuals in the event of a domestic violence or sexually violent incident.
Under the new law, employees are now entitled to a reduced leave schedule for up to 12 consecutive months for any one period of leave, as opposed to 24 consecutive weeks. The new law allows employees to take leave for the birth or adoption of a child on an intermittent basis pursuant to New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law. Under the prior law, individuals were entitled to receive up to 6 weeks of benefits for family temporary disability leave, or 42 days of intermittent leave, for any one period of family temporary disability leave or any 12-month period. The new law increased those benefits to 12 weeks of consecutive leave or 56 days of intermittent leave for any period of leave commencing on or after July 1, 2020. Also, individuals taking disability and those taking family temporary disability leave beginning on July 1, 2020 or thereafter will be entitled to 85% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of 70% of the Statewide average weekly wage, for up to 12 weeks of consecutive leave or 56 days of intermittent leave.