A new bill seeking to expand paid family leave in New Jersey passed the Senate and Assembly on January 31, 2019, and was signed by Governor Phil Murphy today. The bill makes sweeping changes to the New Jersey Family Leave Act that provides greater benefits for more employees. Following are some highlights of the bill:

  • As of June 30, 2019, the definition of a covered employer would include those with 30 employees, as opposed to 50 employees, for each calendar day of 20 or more calendar workweeks.
  • The definition of “parent” is now expanded to include foster parents and those who became parents via a gestational carrier. Likewise, the definition of “family leave” is now expanded to include care for foster children and children who are born via a gestational carrier.
  • The definition of “family member” is now expanded to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, parents-in-law, domestic partners, any individuals related to the employee by blood, and more broadly, “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 would align with the definition of a covered family member under the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act.
  • Employees are now eligible to take leave under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”) to care for any of the aforementioned individuals in the event of a domestic violence or sexually violent incident.

Under the new law, employees are now entitled to a reduced leave schedule for up to 12 consecutive months for any one period of leave, as opposed to 24 consecutive weeks. The new law allows employees to take leave for the birth or adoption of a child on an intermittent basis pursuant to New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law. Under the prior law, individuals were entitled to receive up to 6 weeks of benefits for family temporary disability leave, or 42 days of intermittent leave, for any one period of family temporary disability leave or any 12-month period. The new law increased those benefits to 12 weeks of consecutive leave or 56 days of intermittent leave for any period of leave commencing on or after July 1, 2020. Also, individuals taking disability and those taking family temporary disability leave beginning on July 1, 2020 or thereafter will be entitled to 85% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of 70% of the Statewide average weekly wage, for up to 12 weeks of consecutive leave or 56 days of intermittent leave.

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Photo of Arielle E. Kobetz Arielle E. Kobetz

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations…

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations and discipline, leave and accommodation requests, and general employee relations matters. She also counsels clients on developing, implementing and enforcing personnel policies and procedures and reviewing and revising employee handbooks under federal, state and local law.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Arielle served as a law clerk at the New York City Human Resources Administration, Employment Law Unit, where she worked on a variety of employment discrimination and internal employee disciplinary issues.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.