The New Jersey Legislature became the third state to provide for paid family leave in May of 2008. The New Jersey Paid Family Leave law extends the State Temporary Disability Insurance system to provide any eligible worker with up to six (6) weeks of paid family leave during the first twelve (12) months after the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member who is suffering from a serious medical condition. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“NJDOL”) recently issued regulations interpreting this new law. 

Beginning on January 1, 2009, the law imposed a minor additional tax (the rate is currently 0.09 percent) on the portion of employee wages that are subject to the State Temporary Disability Insurance Tax. Employees may start receiving benefits under this new law on July 1, 2009. The regulations provide for the maximum weekly benefit rate of $546.00 in 2009.

The regulations also indicate that employers have affirmative obligations under this law. Employers are required to give notice of the Paid Family Leave law to their employees, which includes posting notice of an employee’s rights under the Paid Family Leave law in an accessible worksite area. Employers are also required to distribute a copy of the printed notification to all employees. 

The benefits under this statute may be paid under the State plan or employers may obtain private plans. All proposed private plans must be submitted for review and approval by the New Jersey Division of Temporary Disability Insurance (the “Division”). If an employer fails to obtain the approval of the Division for its private plan, the employer shall be deemed to be covered by the State plan and will be responsible for the deduction of employees’ contributions and payments of employees’ contributions to the requisite fund, as required by the statute, until the private plan becomes effective.

Remember, employees are eligible to receive benefits beginning in July. When an employee applies for benefits under the new law, the Division may send a request for information to the employer with respect to a period of family leave. The employer must respond within ten (10) days to the request and failure to do so subjects the employer to statutory penalties.

Employers should currently be familiar with the statute and the NJDOL’s regulations in anticipation of the benefits employees can start receiving on July 1, 2009. These regulations can be accessed by clicking here http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/fli/content/fli_law_regulations.html.