New Jersey residents expecting babies just got a boost under a pair of laws that took effect Monday.
The state’s paid family leave program is due for a big update next summer. But in the meantime, a pair of new laws designed to speed up and ease the process of collecting cash from the state’s temporarily disability and family leave insurance programs have rolled out.
These two laws will change the way the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development processes applications for New Jersey workers taking leave for a disability or new child in order to cut down on the wait time to receive payments once a claim their approved.
New Jersey’s family leave insurance pays workers a share of their lost wages while caring for a newborn, a newly adopted child or an ill family member, while temporary disability insurance acts as state-run short-term disability for someone sick or injured and unable to work.
One newly implemented law streamlines the process for people applying for pregnancy-related temporary disability benefits and family leave benefits after.
The law requires the state to automatically process an application for family leave insurance after the worker applies for temporary disability benefits, saving the worker the hassle of completing a second application.
New Jersey’s expectant mothers are eligible for up to four weeks of temporary disability benefits before they deliver and up to six weeks of family leave benefits (eight weeks for a c-section) after they deliver.
A second law that should help workers to collect their benefits sooner allows them to submit claims for pregnancy-related temporary disability insurance and family leave insurance up to 60 days before the actual claim period if they know when they expect to begin their leave from work.
The law also applies to scheduled medical procedures.
Employers were not required to submit information related to an employee’s leave until the worker is already out on leave, which delays the worker from receiving money from the state.
“This adjustment will help expedite the processing of benefit claims and ensure that workers receive more immediate financial backing,” Gov. Phil Murphy has said of the law.
Both the temporary disability and family leave insurance programs will undergo big reforms next summer, with much-expanded benefits.
Murphy has also signed into law a measure overhauling the family leave program after a push from progressive advocates who said its payouts were too low and many low- and middle-income families still could not afford to take time away from their jobs.
Right now, new parents or caregivers can receive up to six weeks of benefits equal to two-thirds of their pay, but capped at $650 a week. A worker making $15 an hour, or $600 a week, receives $400 a week in wage replacement under those rules.
Starting July 1, 2020, eligible workers will be able to receive 80 percent of their wages — up to $860 — for 12 weeks.