Last week, a bill was advanced by the State’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee to the Senate for discussion and vote. If passed, the new bill will increase the benefits and protections currently afforded under the State’s Family Leave Act and Family Leave Insurance (a component of the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law) and allow employees to take paid time off to care for infants or sick family members without losing their job.
While New Jersey is currently one of the few U.S. states to offer paid family leave, benefits are currently limited to 53% of the State’s average wage with a weekly payout capped at $633 per week (in 2017). Under the proposed legislation, an eligible employee would be entitled to double the time of paid time off within a one-year period, increasing from 6 weeks under current Family Leave Insurance up to 12 weeks under the new proposed legislation. In cases of intermittent leave, the bill would likewise double the maximum number of days from 42 to 84 days.
The benefit would also increase from two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage to 90% — subject, however, to the maximum of 78% of the statewide average wage for all workers making the new maximum benefit under the proposed legislation approximately $932 per week.
Finally, the proposed legislation would also increase the number of employees eligible for benefits under the new family leave provisions. While current legislation requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide family leave without risk to the employee’s employment, the new legislation would reduce that number to 20 or more employees. The new law would also expand the definition of family members to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law. Under the current legislation, only an employee’s spouse, children, and parents are included under the family leave provisions.