Expanded maternity leave benefits
As of July 1,2020, eligible New Jersey workers can take more time off to bond with a new child or care for a loved one, and collect higher benefit amounts than before.
More time for Family Leave: NJ workers can now get up to 12 consecutive weeks of benefits per year to bond with a new child or care for a loved one.
Higher benefit amounts: NJ workers can now get up to 85% of their average weekly wage, up to the maximum set each calendar year, to bond with a new child or care for a loved one, as well as for pregnancy, childbirth or a serious health condition.
Your first day of bonding leave – your “first day of leave” on your application - drives the benefit amount and duration. That means, if you start bonding on June 30, your claim will be based on the lower benefit levels, and you may claim up to 6 weeks of benefits, and collect up to $667 per week. If you start bonding on or after July 1, your claim is based on the new benefit levels and you have access to a longer benefit duration and higher benefit amount. These claims can receive up to 12 consecutive weeks of benefits, or up to 56 individual days if taking leave on a day-by-day basis.
All claims beginning July 1, 2020 receive 85% of their average weekly wage up to $881 per week, whether the leave is taken continuously or intermittently. Claims beginning January 1, 2021 receive 85% of their average weekly wage up to $903 per week.
If you started your Temporary Disability leave before July 1, you missed out on the higher weekly Temporary Disability benefit rate during pregnancy and recovery. The good news is you can still get the higher weekly Family Leave benefit rate and duration for your bonding leave. New mothers who decide to wait to begin bonding leave until July 1 or later may have to prepare for any possible time period between when their period of disability ends and when they choose to start their bonding leave, by discussing their situation with their employer and possibly utilizing accrued paid time off, savings, taking unpaid time off, or returning to work. Read on for more details.
Temporary Disability Insurance replaces lost wages while you are unable to work during your pregnancy and recovery. This timeframe is designated by your healthcare provider and your due date. This unfortunately cannot be shifted around to benefit from the changes that take place on July 1st. Most healthcare providers typically have you stop working up to 4 weeks before your due date, and 6 to 8 weeks after your delivery date (depending on the type of delivery.) Therefore, if your due date is before July 1st then your disability claim will be calculated at the previous benefit rate allowed by law. Even if you wait until July 1 to submit an application, you will still be paid under the previous benefit rate because your disability period began before July 1.
Family Leave Insurance can be utilized up to one year after you deliver. Therefore, if you wish to benefit from the new changes, you can choose to wait until after July 1 to start your bonding leave.
After you start receiving disability benefit payments, we will mail you an a form called “Request to Claimant for Continued Claim Information” (form P30). You and your healthcare provider may use this instructional form to notify the Division of your delivery date if it was not provided on your initial application.
Next, we will mail you an instructional form called New Mother Bonding Notice (form FL-2) so that you can smoothly transition from Temporary Disability benefits during pregnancy and after delivery immediately into Family Leave benefits. However, if you chose to “delay” the start of your Family Leave claim for bonding in hopes of maximizing your benefits, disregard form FL-2, and instead complete a new Family Leave Insurance application (form FL-1) with your first day of leave on or after July 1, 2020. Keep in mind, you have up until your child’s first birthday to claim your Family Leave Insurance bonding benefits.
As of July 1, 2020, the weekly benefit rate will increase to 85% of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum benefit rate set per calendar year. Your Family Leave benefits would be calculated by looking at approximately the last 18 months of wages reported to the State, prior to the start of your bonding leave.
No. In order to receive 12 weeks of benefits your corresponding leave must be taken in one continuous period, up to 12 consecutive weeks. Once you return to work, or have an interruption in family leave days claimed, your leave is viewed as non-continuous or intermittent leave and is capped at eight weeks (56 individual days) of benefits.
You would have five remaining weeks of benefits to claim before the child’s first birthday or within a year of your child’s placement. This situation is viewed as non-continuous or intermittent leave because you did not take your leave all at once. Family Leave claims for periods of non-continuous leave can be for up to eight weeks (56 individual days) of benefits, while claims for continuous periods of leave can be for up to 12 weeks of benefits.
Your first day of bonding leave drives the benefit amount and duration, not the date you submit your application. For example, if you are claiming benefits as of June 15th and submit your application on July 1st, your claim will be based on the previous legislation because your first day of bonding leave was before July 1st.
No. The first day of your period of disability drives your weekly benefit amount. If your first day of disability is before July 1, 2020, the entire duration of Temporary Disability benefits will be calculated at the lower benefit rate allowed by law (2/3 of your average weekly earnings up to a maximum set per calendar year). See question #1 for Family Leave benefits during leave to bond with your new child starting before and after July 1.
Yes, the new legislation applies to any New Jersey employee eligible for Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance. This includes employees bonding with a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed foster child. If your child is born, adopted or placed prior to July 1, 2020 and you would like to maximize your benefits, make sure your Family Leave application has the first date of leave as July 1, 2020 or later.
It depends. If you take leave for pregnancy, delivery, to bond with a new child, or care for a seriously ill loved one, your job may be protected under the state and/or federal laws that entitle you to take that leave, such as the New Jersey Family Leave Act (enforced by the NJ Division on Civil Rights or DCR) or Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (enforced by the United States Department of Labor or USDOL).
These leave laws are separate and apart from the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law, which entitles employees to Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance. Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance are monetary benefits, not leave. You may be eligible for these monetary benefits regardless of whether you are covered under job protection laws.
The NJ Temporary Disability Benefits Law does, however, protect those who have received or who have sought to receive benefits from retaliation by their employers. If you believe that your employer has terminated you or taken some other adverse employment action against you in retaliation for having sought or received benefits, you may file a private legal action against your employer.
Generally, employers with at least 50 employees are covered under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and must provide 12 weeks of job-protected family and 6 weeks of medical leave to employees, including for pregnancy, child birth recovery, and caring for or bonding with a new child. Visit www.dol.gov/whd/fmla for more information on the FMLA. In addition, employers in New Jersey with at least 30 employees worldwide are covered under the NJ Family Leave Act (NJFLA).
Under NJFLA, employers must provide 12 weeks of job-protected family leave to employees so they can care for or bond with a child. If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you can take up to 12 weeks for pregnancy and recovery from childbirth under the FMLA, and you can then take an additional 12 weeks of NJFLA leave to bond with or care for your baby after your doctor certifies you are fit to return to work or you have exhausted your FMLA leave (whichever is earlier).
See this fact sheet for more information, or call the Division on Civil Rights at 973-648-2700.
The bonding expansion allows for up to 12 weeks of continuous leave, however, all claims are subject to the maximum benefit amount.
The maximum benefit amount is 12 times your weekly benefit amount, or one-third (1/3) of your gross base year earnings, whichever is less. Therefore, the maximum benefit amount is based off of your prior earnings and is unique to each individual claim. If your maximum benefit amount was calculated at one-third (1/3) of your base year earnings, you may exhaust your maximum benefit entitlement before 12 weeks of benefits are issued.
Pay close attention to "The Notice of Eligible Determinations" (form D10) which is mailed to you when your claim is approved. Box #15 shows your gross base year earnings, and box #16 shows your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount. This will give you insight on how your maximum benefit amount was calculated and what to expect as benefits are issued. You can also see your claim balance by going to our website and checking your claim status throughout the duration of your claim. As bi-weekly benefits are issued, they will be deducted from your maximum benefit amount and will be reflected in your claim balance.
No. NJFLA provides up to 12 weeks of job protection to bond with or care for your baby (as well as to care for a seriously ill loved one). If you decide to take unpaid leave under NJFLA while waiting for July 1, the NJFLA “clock” will start running, and your NJFLA coverage will run out before your 12 weeks of Family Leave bonding benefits are complete. See this fact sheet for more info or call the NJ Division on Civil Rights at 973-648-2700. We recommend that you speak with your employer about your options, and consider your health insurance benefits as well. You do have the right to take private legal action if an employer retaliates against you for using or seeking to use your Temporary Disability or Family Leave benefits.