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One of the questions surrounding the recently expanded paid family leave program is when the changes will take effect.

The law states it takes effect immediately, which would mean Feb. 19, the day Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill. However, different provisions will actually take effect at different times, so we asked attorney Christina Stoneburner of Fox Rothchild to sort it out.

“This is extra confusing since the law amends the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), the NJ SAFE Act, temporary disability benefits and New Jersey Paid Leave Insurance (PLI) benefits,” Stoneburner said. “Some changes are immediate. Some changes take effect on July 1, 2019 and some don’t take effect until July 1, 2020.”

Attorney Christina Stoneburner at NJBIA's Hard Decisions seminar
Attorney Christina Stoneburner at NJBIA’s Feb. 15 Hard Decisions seminar

Go here for a more detailed description of the changes.

Those changes that take effect immediately include:

  • Expanded definition of family member: The definition is expanded to mirror sick leave law, which means grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, other blood relations and even non-related individuals whose relationship is like that of a family member all count.
  • Reduced-schedule leave:  Someone taking reduced schedule leave under FLA can now receive benefits for up to 12 consecutive months instead of 24 weeks.
  • Those who take FLA to bond with a newborn will be able to take leave intermittently; it is no longer only available if the employer agrees.
  • Employees taking paid family leave cannot be forced to use paid time off. They can elect to use existing paid time off, but their total FLI insurance benefits available will not be reduced by the use of paid time off.

Things that go into effect on July 1, 2019:

  • Employers with 30 or more employees will be covered by the FLA covered beginning July 1. Under current law, only employers with 50 or more employees are covered.
  • No more waiting period for family leaves starting on or after July 1.

Provisions that go into effect on July 1, 2020 are:

  • the increase of paid family leave benefits from six weeks to 12 weeks;
  • employees’ ability to take 56 days of intermittent leave instead of 42 days; and
  • maximum benefits increasing to 85 percent of individual’s average weekly wage up to the applicable cap.

Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Labor will update the definition of “wages” for purpose of determining the employee withholding of FLI contributions.  This will occur on September 1st of each year.