Disability Leave Bills on Today’s Legislative Board Lists

Bills expanding the State’s disability leave law are scheduled for consideration Thursday in both houses of the Legislature.

One bill (A3975) would revise the statutes covering family leave, temporary disability and family temporary disability leave, and domestic or sexual violence safety leave.

It would expand the maximum total benefits payable under the family leave insurance, or “FLI” and Temporary Disability Insurance (“TDI”) related to pregnancy and recovery from childbirth from six to 12 weeks during any 12-month period. In cases of intermittent leave, the maximum FLI leave is increased from 42 days to 84 days. The bill also would increase the amount of weekly benefits for FLI leave and TDI pregnancy leave from two-thirds of a claimant’s average weekly wage to 90 percent, subject to a maximum amount, which the bill increases from 53 to 100 percent of the State average weekly wage. The bill provides that the costs will be borne exclusively through increases in worker contributions, without any increases in employer contribution rates.

The bill would expand the family members for whom individuals covered under the FLI law may receive paid benefits during periods of leave from employment to care for to include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and others related by blood or relationship equivalent to a family relationship, and expands the “Family Leave Act” (“FLA”) and the “NJ SAFE Act” to include the same groups. The bill provides that FLI benefits may be taken by a covered individual while taking time off from work, pursuant to the NJ SAFE Act, to assist a family member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

The bill would also amend the FLA and the FLI law to provide an employee, who becomes a parent of a child pursuant to a gestational carrier agreement with the same rights to unpaid and paid family leave as those laws currently provide to an employee, who is a parent of a newborn child.

The bill would also establish funding for promotional and outreach activities, as well as subject the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to monitoring and reporting requirements.

The other bill (A2762) provides that when a covered individual applies for temporary disability benefits for disability resulting from pregnancy or the birth of a child, the plan administering the covered individual’s benefits must automatically process an application for that individual to its paid family leave benefits program, unless the individual affirmatively opts out of that program.  The application for benefits shall be processed to allow the family leave benefits, if approved, to begin immediately following the end of the temporary disability benefits, unless the individual notifies the plan that the individual wants to postpone or opt out of the family leave.

The Senate companion to A2762 (S1317) is scheduled for a floor vote today in the upper chamber. The Senate version of A3975 (S2528) passed the Senate Labor Committee on May 10 and is pending consideration by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.