By Kelly Fantasia, PHR, SHRM-SCP

New Jersey Family Leave Act

In late February 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy expanded both the state’s Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and its Family Leave Insurance law (NJFLI). The changes significantly impact both the size of companies who will now be required to comply and what they will be compelled, by law, to offer employees. While the prior legislation mandated that companies of 50 employees or more adhere to the NJFLA requirements, the threshold has now been lowered to require companies with only 30 employees or more to be in compliance.

The following charts outline some of the most relevant changes affected employers should familiarize themselves with to ensure they’re meeting the new mandatory requirements.

New Jersey Family Leave Act

The New Jersey Family Leave Act offers protected family leave to certain employees that covers those employees for unpaid leave for up to a certain number of weeks.

New Jersey Family Leave Act

Effective Date What’s Changed
02/19/2019 Now includes: children (biological/gestational carrier/adopted/stepchild/foster/resource family child/legal ward of any age), domestic partners, siblings, grandparents/grandchildren, any individuals related by blood to the employee, any other individuals the employee shows to have an association equivalent to that of a family member relationship with
02/19/2019 Now includes: placement of child into foster care with the employee, birth of a child conceived using a gestational carrier agreement
02/19/2019 Intermittent leave may now be taken to care for a newborn/adopted/foster child without employer agreement
06/20/2019 Companies with 30 employees or more are now required to be in complete compliance with the NJFLA

New Jersey Family Leave Insurance

The New Jersey Family Leave Insurance law monetarily protects those who are taking advantage of the NJFLA by guaranteeing that their jobs will be held for them during their legally allowed term of absence and also ensures the right of the employee to receive continued group health benefits during that time.

New Jersey Family Leave Insurance

Effective Date What’s Changed
02/19/2019 Definition of family has been expanded to match the NJFLA’s description (see chart above)
02/19/2019 Now includes: placement of child into foster care with the employee, birth of a child conceived using a gestational carrier agreement, engaging in activities for which leave may be taken under the New Jersey Safe Act
02/19/2019 Waiting week has been eliminated
02/19/2019 Employer may permit (but no longer may require) an employee to use accrued paid time off and state will no longer reduce benefits paid
02/19/2019 Employer agreement is no longer required for intermittent leave and state will pay intermittent leave in full day increments (as opposed to previously having to take leave in full week increments, only)
01/01/2020 Taxable wage base will now be 107 times the statewide average weekly remuneration paid to workers by employers (approximately $131,000 for 2020) and no increases can be funded by employer contributions
07/01/2020 Leave period increases from 6 weeks to 12 weeks of leave within a 12 month period (for leaves commencing on or after 7/1/20)
07/01/2020 Number of days of intermittent paid benefits a claimant can now collect increases from 42 to 56 days within a 12 month period
07/01/2020 Weekly benefit increases to 85% of claimant’s average weekly wage (with an anticipated maximum of approximately $860 for 2020)

New Jersey Safe Act

Similar to the NJFLA, the New Jersey Safe Act allows for certain employees who have been victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to take advantage of an unpaid leave of absence, not to exceed a fixed number of days each calendar year, and to have their jobs held for them while they continue to receive group medical benefits.

New Jersey Safe Act

Effective Date What’s Changed
02/19/2019 Definition of family has been expanded to match the NJFLA’s description (see chart above)
02/19/2019 Employee may use Temporary Disability Benefits* or Family Leave Insurance during a Safe Act leave of absence
02/19/2019 Employee may use paid time off for leave but is not required to do so
* Please note, until recently, in order to collect benefits, an employee had to be completely unable to work due to their disability. Partial Temporary Disability Benefits will be available at an as-yet-to-be-determined date.

It’s important to be aware that, even though the changes may currently be in effect, due to the anticipated increase in volume of requests necessitated by these changes, the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development may take longer than usual to process benefits.

To be sure your company is in compliance, visit the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s website at www.myleavebenefits.nj.gov/labor/myleavebenefits to familiarize yourself with the new changes and check back frequently for updates.

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