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NJ Employers & Employees: Listen Up…Changes Coming to NJ Family Leave Laws

On February 19, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation amending and significantly expanding the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and New Jersey Family Leave Insurance Law (NJFLI).  Here is a brief overview of the changes to come.

NJFLA: The law currently allows employees who meet eligibility requirements and who work for a covered employer to take leave in certain situations (care of family member with a serious health condition or to care for a newborn or adopted child) without fear of losing their jobs. Presently, NJFLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

Effective June 30, 2019, key changes include:

  • Employers with 30 or more employees (in total, regardless of location) are required to provide employees (who work in New Jersey) with 12 weeks of job-protected family leave during each 24-month period. This is significant in that employers who were not previously covered under the NJFLA and the Family Medical Leave Act due to having 30-49 employees will now fall under the amended NJFLA law.
  • The law was also modified to provide an employee with family leave following the placement of a foster care child into his/her care (previously only birth or adoption fell under this category).
  • Further, employees may take NJFLA leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. In this regard, the amendments expanded the definition of “family member” to include “parent-in-law,” “sibling,” “grandparent,” and “any other individual related by blood to the employee, and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.” NOTE: the amendment also reduces the amount of notice an employee must provide to his/her employer when he/she is requesting intermittent NJFLA to care for a family member with a serious health condition, from 30 days to 15 days. All other NJFLA requests will still require 30 days advance notice.
  • Finally, employees will also be able to use intermittent NJFLA leave due to the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child without the employer’s approval. Previously, employees had to take such leave on a consecutive basis and could only do so intermittently with employer approval.

NJFLI: The NJFLI provides wage replacement benefits to employees on family leave through the state’s temporary disability leave benefits program. The law is amended with significant changes to take effect on July 1, 2020. Details include doubling the number of weeks of paid leave benefits from  6 to 12 within a 12-month period, changes to intermittent leave benefits, increases in the cap on weekly benefits, and other changes.

For more information on your rights as an employee or your obligations as an employer, and to understand the overlap between NJFLA and FMLA, please contact our office.