New Jersey's Family Leave Act (NJFLA), which is similar to the federal Family Medical Leave Act, provides up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave per 24-month period to care for a family member with a serious health condition. For nearly a decade, New Jersey's Temporary Disabilities Benefits Law (NJTDBL) has permitted a vehicle for payment during a NJFLA leave, among other leaves, but recent amendments vastly expand the provisions of NJFLA, NJTDBL and the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (NJSAFE). The amendments expand upon the employees who are eligible for NJFLA leave, the amount of leave an eligible employee can take, the amount of benefits an eligible employee receives while on leave and the definition of family member.
On June 30, 2019, the amendment expands the definition of who is eligible for NJFLA leave to employees employed by employers who employee 30 or more employees - down from the 50 or more employees currently required.
Currently, the NJTDBL provides employees with up to six weeks of benefits (or 42 days of intermittent leave) while on qualified leave, and the benefits paid are two-thirds of their pay, up to $600 per week. Effective July 1, 2020, the amendment increases the benefit time under NJTDBL to 12 weeks per year (or 56 days of intermittent leave) and increases the payment during leave to 85 percent of their salary, up to $860 per week. Additionally, as of July 1, 2019, employees will no longer be required to wait one week before NJTDBL benefits are available and instead will be eligible to receive NJTDBL benefits immediately upon taking a qualified leave. The increases in benefits will continue to be funded by payroll deductions.
The amendment also expands the definition of a family member under NJPFLA, NJSAFE and NJTDBL. Domestic partners, foster children, children born via surrogate, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law all have been added to children, parents, spouses and civil union partners, who previously were covered. Additionally, the amendment adds the increasingly popular catchall for the definition of family member: "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." This expanded definition permits almost anyone to qualify as a family member...