Revamped New Jersey Family Leave Act Boosts Benefits for Workers
Earlier this year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the NJ Family Leave Act into law. Once all its objectives fully mature and take effect in July 2020, New Jersey will offer the most comprehensive paid family leave time and benefits in the nation. However, many workers are unfamiliar with the new law and its new provisions.
Employers must provide this type of leave if they have at least 30 employees, or is a government entity, regardless of size, and the employee requesting a leave has worked for that employer for at least one year, and for at least 1,000 hours during the last 12 months.
Read below for an overview of the changes and benefits available with the new law:
- Increases Time Off: By July 2020, workers will be allowed to take 12 weeks of paid time off after childbirth, or to care for a sick family member, which is double the amount of time currently offered. An option for intermittent leave is also available, and that time too has been increased: workers will be eligible for 56 days of paid leave in a 12-month period instead of the current limit of just 42 days.
- Raises Payments: The maximum possible payment would rise from $650 a week to $860 a week. For people making less than the maximum amount, workers will be able to receive 85 percent of their weekly wage, an increase from the rate of two-thirds pay. This new benefit will also go into effect in July 2020.
- More Family Members Included: When the law was signed, benefits were immediately made available to people taking care of a broader variety of family members. No longer limited to immediate family, now benefits are also available for workers caring for siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, anyone else related by blood, or who is the “equivalent” of family.
- Increased Job Protection: As of June of this year, the law guarantees that workers at companies with 30 or more employees will have a job to return to if they take paid family leave.
The new program also sets aside $1.2 million a year for promotion and to increase awareness. A recent Columbia University study found that over 150,000 people took advantage of New Jersey’s previous Family Leave programs, but many more would have done so had they known about it beforehand.
To learn more specifics about how the program works, eligibility requirements, and how to apply for benefits, see this very helpful resource put out by Advocates for Children of New Jersey which explains the plan in more detail: It's About Time: To Recover To Bond To Adjust.
Notably, the New Jersey Family Leave Act does not provide benefits for an employee’s own health condition. Employees may be eligible for additional leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act for their personal health concerns.
Paid family leave has been shown to have many positive results, such as leading to healthier babies with better long-term outcomes, as well as enabling mothers to stay better connected to the workforce, leading to overall higher career wages.