On May 2, 2008, Governor Corzine of New Jersey signed into law Paid Family Leave legislation. Although paid leave benefits were not effective until July 1, 2009, by now most New Jersey employees should have noticed that, effective January 1, 2009 payroll deductions include monies to fund the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act. The delay in the effective date was meant to provide the State time to raise the necessary revenues to fund the benefit. In addition, as of April 1, 2009, all employers were required to post the State’s official paid-family-leave notice in their workplaces and to distribute a copy of that notice to all employees.
The New Jersey Paid Family Leave legislation provides up to six weeks (or 42 days if the leave is “intermittent”) of benefits, which are paid at the same level as those provided under New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law. Generally, an employee may take the leave to provide care certified to be necessary for a family member of the employee suffering from a serious health condition, or to bond with and care for a child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or the child’s placement for adoption with the employee’s family.
When determining whether or not the employee qualifies for the leave or whether the leave is right for the employee, it is important to consider the following:
- New Jersey Paid Family Leave runs concurrently with leave provided under both the New Jersey Family Leave Act, as applicable, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- In order to be covered, an employee must have had at least 20 calendar weeks in covered New Jersey employment, in which he or she earned no less than an amount equal to 20 times the minimum wage (currently $143 per week), or has earned not less than 1,000 times the minimum wage adjusted to the next higher multiple of $100 (currently $7,200 per year) in such employment during the “Base Year” period.
- Employees are entitled to 2/3 of their average weekly wage, up to a $524 per week maximum. Eligible employees may take up to 6 consecutive weeks of Paid Family Leave. If the leave is intermittent, the employee is entitled to receive $74.85 per day, for up to 42 days, during any 12-month period.
- Application for benefits are made to the State. Generally, the employee’s Human Resources department has the applications and can assist in completion of the application. If taking Paid Family Leave to care for a sick family member, you will be required to obtain and submit medical certifications. If the leave is to care for a newborn, generally all that is required is the birth certificate and, if applicable, hospital discharge paperwork. If you feel your rights are being violated, please talk with an experienced workers compensation attorney.
- There will generally be a 1-week waiting period before you can receive Paid Family Leave benefits. If the benefits continue for 3 weeks, benefits are payable retroactive to the first day of the leave. However, assuming all the paperwork is timely submitted, if the leave is taken immediately following State Temporary Disability Leave, there is no delay in the benefits. Generally, in order to avoid any delay in the application, make sure the paperwork and the dates of the leave are correct and approved by the employer.
- Employees need to be aware of various notice requirements that must be given to employers of the intent to take Paid Family Leave and deadlines by which to apply for benefits with the State. The notice requirements vary for both the reason the employee is taking the leave and whether or not the leave is a consecutive or intermittent.
Both employees and employers should check for specific eligibility requirements and obligations with the New Jersey Department of Labor to ensure both compliance with the new law and enforcement of their rights pursuant to the New Jersey Paid Leave law.
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