TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton that would streamline current policy regarding the application for temporary disability leave insurance and family leave insurance was signed into law today by Governor Phil Murphy.
“New and expecting parents should be able to focus on taking care of themselves and their families without worrying about paperwork or benefits,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Many families across the state are living paycheck to paycheck. They should not have to worry about a gap in benefits while on leave for the birth of a child.”
The law will require an application for family leave insurance to automatically be processed whenever an individual applies for temporary disability insurance due to pregnancy or childbirth, unless the individual opts out. Family leave insurance will begin immediately after temporary disability benefits end, so that there is no gap in coverage. Automatic registration will fast track the existing process preventing delays in payments. It will also increase enrollment in family leave insurance, a highly valuable but underused program.
“In 2017, New Jersey had about 24,800 temporary disability insurance claims related to pregnancy and childbirth and 28,600 family leave insurance claims for bonding with a newborn child. Unfortunately, only about 14,700 individuals made claims under both programs. These are numbers that we have to improve upon, and our government has to do a better job of making it easier for individuals to have all the time they need,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Any law that strengthens the familial bond makes our entire state better, because strong families are the building blocks of New Jersey’s foundation.”
The automatic enrollment will apply to those enrolling in the state temporary disability insurance plan, and those enrolling in a private plan which offers both temporary disability and family leave insurance. Private insurers who do not offer family leave insurance will be required to inform those enrolling in temporary disability insurance due to pregnancy or childbirth of how to apply to the state family leave insurance.
Those using the program will be required to provide notification of when they plan to return to work, and if they return to work early. The law will allow individuals a minimum four weeks of benefits before the delivery date and six weeks of benefits after the delivery date, and will allow for a doctor to prescribe more time if necessary.
This law is a part of a number of reforms to New Jersey’s paid family leave program to improve efficiency.