Client Alert for New Jersey Employers

July 08, 2009

Paid Family Leave — Beginning July 1, 2009, legislation providing paid family leave benefits to employees caring for sick family members and newborn or newly adopted children became effective in New Jersey.

Signed by Governor Jon Corzine in May 2008, the law extends the state's existing Temporary Disability Insurance program to permit up to six (6) weeks of insurance benefits for workers taking leave to bond with a newborn or adopted child or to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition, supported by certification from a health care provider. A "family member" means a child, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, or parent of a covered individual. This leave may be taken to be with a child during the first 12 months after the child's birth, if the employee or the domestic partner or civil union partner of the employee is a biological parent of the child. Leave may also be taken during the first 12 months after the placement of a child for adoption with the employee.

New Jersey employees are eligible for the Family Leave Insurance if they meet the following conditions: (1) they have worked 20 calendar weeks in covered New Jersey employment; or (2) they have earned $7,200 or more in such employment during the 52 weeks immediately preceding the family leave.

The program requires no contributions from employers and is funded totally by employee payroll deductions. Participating workers will receive no more than two-thirds of their weekly pay, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $524. Employers may require that, during a period of family leave, employees use up to two weeks of paid sick leave, paid vacation, or other leave at full pay prior to being eligible for paid family leave under the new law.

The law covers all New Jersey employers, regardless of the number of employees. This paid leave runs concurrently with the federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and New Jersey's Family Leave Act. The law ensures that businesses with less than 50 employees have the option to replace employees receiving Family Leave Insurance benefits. The law also includes certain anti-fraud measures such as criminal penalties and fines for those who improperly claim benefits.

New Jersey employers are required to post a notice informing employees about the provisions of Family Leave Insurance. This and other required state posters are available from SESCO the set of required state posters is $14.95. You may order posters on line at www.sescomgt.com or call 423 764 4127.

Additionally, employee handbooks will need revised. SESCO retainer clients receive a free review. Otherwise, simply contact SESCO to discuss the update of your polices to reflect this new legislation.