New Jersey Expands Its Paid Family Leave Program. What Does it Mean for Employees and Employers?

Mar 04, 2019
| David Pearson
New Jersey Paid Family Leave Expansion

New Jersey has been busy in recent months passing new laws aimed at helping workers in the state.

October 2018 saw the new Paid Sick Leave Law take effect, and earlier this month Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

Now, the Governor has signed into law a bill that will expand the New Jersey paid family leave program, which was already considered one of the more generous in the country.

What does this bill mean for workers and employers in New Jersey? Let’s take a closer look.

More Workers Will Be Covered Under the Revised Law

One of the significant impacts of the new bill is that more workers will soon be covered and entitled to receive paid leave benefits.

Prior to the new bill, the New Jersey Family Leave Act applied to employers with 50 or more employees. However, beginning June 30th, 2019, the law will expand to include employers with 30 or more employees.

On this date, these workers will be covered under the current paid family leave law, which means small employers must be prepared to provide leave benefits to employees or risk potential fines and lawsuits. The bill also states that the penalities for employers who violate the law will increase.

But this isn’t the only change that employers and employees can expect.

New Jersey Workers Will Be Getting Better Benefits

Besides expanding which workers qualify for paid leave, the new law has a few other key updates that employers must know.

Starting July 2020, employees will be entitled to more time off for the birth of a child (adoption and foster placement also qualify) or to care for a family member who is ill. While the current law allows a limit of 6 weeks, the new bill expands this to 12 weeks of paid time off.

And if employees want to take leave intermittently as opposed to all at once, they will be eligible for 56 days of paid leave instead of the 42 days currently offered.

Additionally, employees taking paid leave will be entitled to more money during their time off. Once in effect in July 2020, employees will receive payments that are 85% of their weekly wage. According to state officials, this will increase weekly payments from about $638 (under the current law) to around $850.

Starting immediately, the bill expands who is considered a family member that a worker can use paid leave benefits for in the event of an illness. Under the new law, workers can use paid leave for:
  • The birth of a child
  • Adoption or foster placement of a child
  • To care for a sick child, spouse, civil union partner, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and anyone who’s related by blood or who is the “equivalent” of family

The law also allows for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, and family members who care for them, to use the New Jersey paid leave program.

New Jersey workers should expect to see an increase in the amount deducted from their paychecks when the new law takes effect, as this is how the program is funded.

New Jersey Employers Must Prepare Now for the New Paid Family Leave Law

With some provisions of the new law effective immediately and in June of this year, and the remainder going into effect in July 2020, New Jersey employers need to plan accordingly and be prepared for the impacts this law may have.

Consulting with HR and compliance experts could be valuable to help employers maintain compliance and avoid penalties that can come from violating the law.

New Jersey employers also need to keep an eye on other potential employment legislation changes that may be coming in 2019.

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