New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Act established the Family Leave Insurance (FLI) program. The FLI program helps families care for loved ones by providing up to six weeks of paid time off for the sole purpose of caring for a family member who is seriously ill. While the program is not specifically designed to care for the elderly, it can be used to care for one’s aging parents.
The FLI program does not require that an employer hold one’s job for the person taking leave. However, this program can be used in combination with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which does require that an employer hold one’s job and requires them to continue providing any health insurance coverage.
The FLI program is administered by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and is financed via employee wage deductions.
Paid Family Leave / Family Leave Insurance is available to all employed state residents given their employer is subject to the NJ Unemployment Compensation Law. Unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is briefly mentioned above, there is no minimum number of employees required in order for a company to be covered for Family Leave Insurance benefits. As a general rule of thumb, most businesses that employ at least one person and pay a minimum of $1,000 / year are subject to the Unemployment Compensation Law.
As of 2020, candidates must have earned a minimum of $200 per week in the state of New Jersey for at least 20 weeks prior to taking leave. Alternatively, they must have earned a minimum of $10,000 in the year preceding their leave.
Candidates must supply detailed medical information that their parent or family member has a serious condition and requires their care.
Candidates must be taking time off to care for an eligible family member. In addition to one’s biological or adopted parents, parents-in-law are included as eligible family members.
Candidates must give employers reasonable advanced notice unless they need to take the leave unexpectedly.
There is no requirement that the individual who will receive care reside in New Jersey. One can take leave to care for a loved one out-of-state or even out of the country.
Family Leave Insurance offers up to 6 weeks of paid care leave. The benefit amount is based on an applicant’s average weekly wage or how much they earned in the eight weeks immediately before their claim begin. As of July 1, 2020, the current weekly benefit rate is 85% of an individual’s average weekly wage, up to $881.
Leave can be taken continuously or intermittently. To clarify, continuous leave is leave taken all at once in six consecutive weeks. Intermittent leave offers up to 42 days, which can be taken as needed during a 12-month period. For example, one could take off one day each week for 42 weeks. However, if one chooses to take time off intermittently, one must give the employer a 15-day notice.
When applying for paid leave, one must notify their employer in advance. An employer may require the employee to use up any vacation time, sick time, or any other paid leave time they have accumulated prior to their formal leave beginning.
One should begin the application for benefits with the state only after their leave has begun.
For more information or to apply call 609-292-7060 or visit the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.