On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Assembly Bill 3975 which expands the reach of several leave laws in the Garden State. Although the majority of the changes pertain to the state’s existing Paid Family Leave Insurance law (NJPLI), the new law also expands several other New Jersey leave laws, including the New Jersey Safe Act, Temporary Disability Insurance (TDL) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA).
The new law changes the definition of family member so that it is uniform under the NJFLA, NFPLI, the New Jersey Safe Act and the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act. The law adopts the expansive definition set forth in New Jersey’s recently enacted Paid Sick Leave law, which we wrote about in more detail here. A family member is now defined to include "a child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, or one partner in a civil union couple, or 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." The law also permits individuals to take leave to assist family members who are victims of domestic or sexual violence. This includes the employee and the employee’s family member for any of the reasons set forth in the NJ Safe Act.
The law increases the amount of weekly benefits under NJPLI from 66 percent of the individual’s average wage to 85 percent of that wage and doubles the maximum length of time from six to 12 weeks during a 12-month period. Intermittent leave is also increased from 42 to 56 days. Additionally, individuals no longer have to wait one week before they can be paid NJFLI benefits.
The law also provides that NJFLI benefits, with NJFLA protections, may be taken on an intermittent basis in cases of birth, placement in foster care, or adoption if the individual provides the employer with prior notice. The notice provision does not apply if there are unforeseen circumstances.
The law includes a specific anti-retaliation provision which prevents employers with over 30 employees from retaliating or discriminating against any employee who utilizes family leave.
As you can see, New Jersey continues to enact laws that impact employers’ obligations. Should you have any questions or if you would like to discuss how these changes will impact your company, please contact your regular Saul Ewing LLP labor and employment attorney.