On Feb.19, 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law a significant expansion of the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) A-3975.

The new NJFLA applies to a greater number of employers by reducing the employee threshold from 50 employees to 30. Employers are affected even when their employees are not stationed in New Jersey. Additionally, as of June 30, 2019, covered employers will be required to provide 12 weeks of job-protected family leave to employees during every 24-month period.

The amendment to the NJFLA expands the definition of “child” to include foster child and those children who have been conceived using a gestational carrier agreement.  The act now provides periods of leave for adoptions; placement of a child into foster care with the employee; childbirth, including childbirth under a valid agreement between an employee and a gestational carrier; and the serious health condition of the employee’s family member.

Members are reminded that NJFLA is only for the care of others and does not cover an employee’s leave to attend to his or her own medical conditions. The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to provide protected leave for an individual to care for his or her own medical conditions and is un-changed by amendments made to the NJFLA.

Significantly, the law expands the definition of “family member” to include parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, and “any other individual related by blood to the employee and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

In conjunction with the above, employees may now take “intermittent” leave upon the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child without the approval of the employer.  Previously, leave for these purposes could only be taken on a consecutive basis unless there was express approval of the employer to take the leave intermittently.

Lastly, the amount of advance notice required will be reduced from 30 days to 15 days when requesting intermittent leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. For other leave requests, the notice requirement remains 30 days.

This amendment has also made significant changes to the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance Law (NJFLI) and the New Jersey SAFE Act.  Members are encouraged to review all of these changes with their board attorney or the NJSBA Legal and Labor Relations Department at (609) 278-5254.