Family Leave Act Expanded

On Feb. 19, 2019, Gov. Murphy signed assembly bill No. 3975, expanding family leave under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), making corresponding changes under the NJ Family Leave Insurance (NJ FLI), the NJ Temporary Disability Benefits Law (NJTDBL), the NJ Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), and also adding eligibility of family leave to the NJ Security and Financial Empowerment Act (SAFE).

Effective June 30, 2019, the NJFLA will require employers with at least thirty employees to provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid family leave in a 24-month period for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Previously, the NJFLA applied only to employers with 50 or more employees and allowed qualifying employees to take up to six weeks of leave in a 12-month period.

The bill also increased the amount of weekly benefits for family leave insurance and pregnancy leave to 85 percent of the claimant’s average weekly wage (an increase from 66 percent) up to a maximum of $860 per week (or 70 percent of the NJ’s average weekly wage). This increased benefit is paid exclusively through increases in payroll taxes and will not increase the employer contribution rates.

Certain provisions take effect immediately, including a change to the definition of “child” to allow a parent of a foster child to take unpaid and paid family leave, as well as an employee who becomes a parent pursuant to a surrogacy or a valid written gestational carrier agreement. It also expands the definition of “family member” to include parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, domestic partner, or any other blood relative, and “any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

The NJ SAFE law provides qualifying employees with up to 20 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period and was amended to allow employees to take paid family temporary disability leave in the event that they become victims of domestic or sexual violence and need medical care, counseling or to attend court or other legal proceedings. An employee may also use this leave to assist a family member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

The bill also makes significant changes to permitted intermittent leave, provides anti-retaliation measures to ensure employers do not discriminate or retaliate against employees that take advantage of the benefits, and updates the employer notice requirement to require an NJ FLI notice be placed at all worksites.

Employers with employees in NJ should review this bill to ensure that their employee handbook and policies reflect the changes required by the law as well as to ensure they are compliant with the notice and posting requirements. They must also confirm that the changes to the payroll tax deductions are properly implemented.

HB 3975 »