Did you know NJ is one of just 11 states with a Paid Family Leave program?

Posted on May 10, 2024


By Olivia Carrara Leontine Young Fellow

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What is NJ’s Paid Family Leave?

New Jersey is one of the only 11 states that mandates paid family leave. In its basic form, NJ’s family leave program is financed by worker payroll deductions. These finances are provided to parents through the NJ Family Leave Insurance (FLI), which offers up to 12 continuous weeks, or 56 intermittent days, of leave at 85% of a worker’s salary. The maximum reimbursement rate for FLI in 2024 is $1,055 per week.

While FLI ensures wage replacement, it does not guarantee job protection. The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) is the state’s 12-week unpaid leave job-protection program which does in fact protect parents from being fired or demoted during time off. NJFLA is mandatory for all businesses with 30 or more employees.

NJ also offers Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) to those recovering from birth. This program, also known as Maternity Leave, provides cash benefits equivalent to that of FLI, for 6 weeks following vaginal delivery and 8 weeks following a cesarean delivery. The eligibility requirements for TDI are the same as FLI. 

Who has access?

NJ’s paid family leave is extended to parents of newly born, adopted, fostered, or surrogacy-born children. Employees must have worked at least 20 calendar weeks and earned a total of $13,000 in the base year to qualify for the benefits. Both NJFLA and FLI are offered to both mothers and fathers up to one year following delivery. FLI and TDI are only offered to employees who paid into the programs, while NJFLA is offered to all employees in businesses of 30 or more. 

Why is Paid Family Leave so important?

Paid family leave has numerous benefits for children and families. The primary purpose is to provide time for infants and their caregivers to bond. This is crucial, as the first few weeks of an infant’s life are when babies experience intense brain growth. 

Research has shown that PFL is associated with better infant health, increased breastfeeding, more checkups, and fewer infant deaths and injuries, thus revealing how beneficial PFL can be to infants and their development. PFL helps infants thrive in the first few weeks of life, which is strongly correlated with becoming well-adjusted, productive adults.

How can NJ improve its Paid Family Leave and Job Protection?
Many parents report having difficulty obtaining paid family leave. Parents interviewed by ACNJ’s parent leadership council reported that the application is difficult to navigate and the process as a whole is unclear. Others mentioned that they attempted to contact customer service and were never able to reach someone, and some mentioned not receiving their payments for months after their leave. These interviews helped reveal potential areas of improvement within NJ’s PFL program.

Parents shared that once they received PFL they were incredibly grateful for the opportunity it gave them to bond with their child, while not having to worry about finances. Despite this, the parents hoped that NJ would improve their PFL application and begin to more widely promote the program, in general. Some of the interviewed parents felt as though there was not enough awareness of the program, leading to families missing out on utilizing this program and having time with their new child. 

While NJ’s Paid Family Leave program is incredibly helpful to parents throughout the state, its benefits are limited when the program is not made widely accessible. It is crucial that the state and individuals promote the program so parents and employees can better access the benefits and children can have a caregiver at home during their first few weeks of life. 

To learn more about leave benefits, visit the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.