Senate Committee Advances Bill to Expand New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Law
November 28, 2018
Senate Bill 2528 Was Recently Advanced, Which Would Expand New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Law
With New Jersey employers preparing to comply with the state’s new paid sick leave law, additional leave obligations may be on the horizon. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee recently advanced Senate Bill 2528, which would expand New Jersey’s paid family leave laws.
New Jersey is one of a handful of states to require employers to provide paid family leave. The Family Leave Act allows workers to take up to six weeks of paid leave during any 12-month period in the form of state temporary disability insurance benefits. Employees on paid leave receive two-thirds of their salary, to a maximum of $638 per week. The benefit is funded via a mandatory employee payroll tax and not by the employer directly.
Proposed Changes to Paid Family Leave Law
Senate Bill 2528 revises New Jersey’s laws concerning family leave, pregnancy temporary disability insurance (TDI) leave, family TDI leave, and domestic or sexual violence safety leave. Most notably, the legislation seeks to lengthen the time family leave insurance (FLI) can be paid from six weeks to 12.
As initially proposed, the bill sought to increase the amount of weekly benefits for FLI leave and TDI pregnancy leave from two-thirds of a claimant’s average weekly wage to 90 percent of that wage. It also increased the cap from 53 percent of the State average weekly wage (SAWW) for all workers to 100 percent of the SAWW. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee amended the bill to reduce the benefit increase from 90 percent to 85 percent of the worker’s weekly wage. It also reduces the increased cap on benefits from 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage to 70 percent.
The bill, as advanced by the Senate Committee, would also make several other key changes to employers’ paid leave obligations, including:
- The definition of “family” would be expanded to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law and those who are the “equivalent” of family members;
- Family temporary disability leave benefits with respect to a birth or adoption could be taken on an intermittent basis.
- The one-week waiting period before the payment of FLI benefits would be eliminated.
- A worker with more than one employer would be allowed to receive FLI benefits for leave taken from one employer while continuing other employment if the worker does not increase the amount of the other employment during the leave.
- Allowable intermittent leave would be increased from 42 to 52 days.
- Leave insurance would be available for workers who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and for family members to care for these victims;
- An employee who becomes a parent of a child pursuant to a gestational carrier agreement would have the same rights to family leave as an employee who is a parent of a newborn child;
- A two-week limit on the amount of accrued sick leave certain public employees may be required to use before receiving TDI benefits would be imposed, with the further limitation that they may not be required to use their last week of accrued sick leave before receiving TDI benefits; and
- A total of $1.2 million would be allocated from the insurance fund to help increase awareness of the program.
Critics of the bill contend that it places too high a burden on small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in light of the cumulative effect created by the state’s new paid sick leave law and new reporting requirements under a new pay equity law. Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Labor & Employment Group will continue to track the progress of the legislation and post updates as they become available.
If you have questions, please contact us
If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Scott Heck, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-806-3364.