You’d think that New Jersey would have one of the nation’s most generous family leave laws in the country. That’s how NJ touts it.
But, in many ways, it’s less generous than even the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, the New Jersey Family Leave Act entitles certain employees to take up to 12 weeks of family leave in 24 months without losing their jobs. The FMLA provides 12 weeks of leave in 12 months. Plus, the FMLA allows for leave for one’s own serious health condition. That’s not the case under the NJFLA.
Yesterday, however, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S2374) to expand NJFLA protections. Nothing about the new law impacts the distinctions I mentioned in the previous paragraph. But, the amended NJFLA does ensure that employees forced to take time off to care for a family member during the COVID-19 outbreak, can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave in 24 months without losing their jobs.
Actually, the amendments aren’t limited to COVID-19. Other similar health epidemics could trigger coverage. But, I’m going to focus this post on the current pandemic.
Like the FFCRA, under the new law, eligible employees may take leave from work during the current stay-at-home order (and in other similar situations) to provide in-home care or treatment of a child because the child’s school or place or care is closed due to COVID-19.
Plus, the expanded NJFLA creates leave rights to care for a quarantined family member under certain circumstances.
There are certification requirements, but they are rather benign. Intermittent leave is also available.
While the NJFLA continues to focus on care for others, among other things, the new legislation does allow for payment of disability benefits to employees that suffer from or are suspected of having COVID-19.
Finally, the bill makes technical corrections to provisions of the “Temporary Disability Benefits Law” that were amended last month.
The new law takes effect immediately and is retroactive to March 25, 2020.