On February 19, 2019, New Jersey approved Assembly Bill 3975, which expanded its paid family leave laws. Among other changes, the law expands eligibility and benefits under New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (NJ FLI), which currently provides wage replacement to employees to care for an ill family member or to bond with a child. The provisions amending NJ FLI regarding eligibility and retaliation take effect immediately, while the increase in benefits are set to take effect on July 1, 2020.
What provisions of NJ FLI take effect immediately?
The following provisions take effective immediately:
- The amendment removes the seven-day waiting period for NJ FLI benefits. Previously, employees were not entitled to NJ FLI for the first seven days of leave, unless the leave was longer than 21 days.
- Employers will now be barred from discriminating or retaliating against employees taking NJ FLI. Prior to the amendment, NJ FLI did not have an anti-retaliation provision in the law. However, employers would have been subject to anti-retaliation provisions under the federal Family Medical Leave Act or New Jersey’s Family and Medical Leave Law.
- Employers will be fined for failing to comply with the notice requirements regarding leave and benefits. Currently, the NJ FLI notice must be distributed to all newly hired employees, when an employee takes a qualified leave, and upon request. Employers must also post the NJ FLI notice developed by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce development in a conspicuous place at all worksites. The current notice can be found here.
- The amendment expands eligibility to cover additional categories of family members and children, including a foster child or child who becomes the parent pursuant to valid written agreement between the parent and a gestational carrier, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, any other individual related by blood to the employee, and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close relationship which is the equivalent of a family relationship.
- Employees now only need to provide 15 days of advance notice when taking intermittent leave for bonding with a child. Employees still need to provide 30 days of notice for continuous bonding with a child.
- Employees taking leave under New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment (NJ SAFE) Act are now eligible for NJ FLI benefits. Under the NJ SAFE Act, employees are entitled to 20 days of leave within a 12-month period if the employee or the employee’s family member has been a victim of domestic violence or sexually violent offense. The NJ SAFE Act applies to employers with 25 or more employees. For more on the NJ SAFE Act, see the New Jersey Department and Labor Workforce Development fact sheet.
- The amendment eliminates the provision that allowed employers to require employees to use up to two weeks of paid time off (PTO) in lieu of two weeks of NJ FLI. Employees may still elect to use their available PTO in addition to the NJ FLI benefits. If employees do elect to use their PTO, it does not reduce their entitlement to NJ FLI.
What provisions of NJ FLI take effect on July 1, 2020?
Beginning July 1, 2020, employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period, increased from the current 6 weeks. Employees will be able to take up to 56 intermittent days of leave, an increase from the current 42 days. Wage replacement increases from 66.6% to 85% if employees’ weekly wage, up to a maximum of $860 a week.
NJ FLI is currently funded by New Jersey workers through a payroll deduction of 0.08% on employees’ first $34,400 in taxable wages. The new legislation increases the threshold for deductions on employees’ wages up to the first $131,000 of taxable wages. The percentage of payroll deduction is not yet known, as it is updated on an annual basis.
What do employers need to do to comply with the new provisions of NJ FLI?
- For the provisions of the law that take effect immediately, employers should ensure that their policies regarding paid family leave comply. For example, if employers require employees to use their PTO prior to electing NJ FLI benefits, they should remove this requirement.
- Employers should ensure that they are complying with the NJ FLI notice and posting requirements.
- While employers do not contribute to NJ FLI, employers should ensure that their payroll is taking the appropriate deductions from employees’ paychecks when the threshold deductions increase in 2020.
- Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance
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