Murphy signs pair of bills improving leave, disability programs

By Meg Fry
Trenton | Oct 8, 2019 at 12:02 pm

New Jersey’s paid family leave and temporary disability insurance programs were substantially expanded for employees when Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill in February that will take effect next summer.

However, a pair of bills designed to speed up and simplify the process of collecting have become law as of Monday.

The first allows employees to submit claims for pregnancy-, child care- and medical-related temporary disability insurance and family leave insurance up to 60 days before the claim period, with many employees knowing when they will need to take leave from work to either give birth, provide care or have a scheduled procedure.

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Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a pair of bills adjusting family leave and disability programs.

“Assembly Bill No. 4118 permits individuals to submit temporary disability and family leave insurance claims related to pregnancy, childbirth and child care prior to the start of a known period of leave,” Murphy said, prior to signing the bill into law. “This adjustment will help expedite the processing of benefit claims and ensure that workers receive more immediate financial backing.”

The second law requires the automatic processing of an application for family leave insurance after an employee applies for temporary disability benefits, which also cuts down on the hassle, wait time and knowledge gap for employees.

“I unequivocally support the expansion of these benefits for workers in the state and will continue to work with the Legislature on future legislation addressing shortfalls in coverage, underutilization by vulnerable populations and inequities in benefit administration,” Murphy said.

Effective since June, the law also extended protected leave requirements to businesses with as few as 30 employees instead of 50.

Currently, expectant mothers in New Jersey are eligible for up to four weeks of temporary disability benefits before they deliver and up to eight weeks of family leave benefits after.

However, updates to the paid family leave program include:

  • A bump up from 65% pay capped at $650 per week to more than 80% of wages capped at $860 for 12 weeks;
  • Benefits for employees to take time off to care for a family member, including in instances of domestic violence;
  • Restrictions against employers requiring employees to use existing paid time off for paid family leave matters;
  • Restrictions against employers requiring employees utilize leave time consecutively. Intermittent leave must be granted under all circumstances.

Those new laws will go into effect in summer 2020.

Meg Fry | mfry@roi-nj.com | megfry3