Paid Family Leave
Paid family leave allows working parents to spend time caring for their newborn or infant during a critical bonding period without a complete loss of wages. The time spent at home with their children fosters a nurturing relationship that allows for healthy growth and development. Beyond the benefits of forming strong attachments, the availability of paid leave for both parents is associated with improved outcomes. This includes lower rates of infant mortality and postpartum depression and higher rates of breastfeeding, vaccination, doctors’ check-ups and fathers participating in caretaking.
Paid Family Leave in New Jersey
New Jersey is one of the few states that offers a paid family leave program, called Family Leave Insurance (FLI). Presently, FLI only allows for six weeks of leave paid at two-thirds of salary, to a maximum of $650/week. Beginning July 1, 2020, FLI will allow for twelve weeks of paid leave at 85 percent of salary, with a maximum of $881/week.
Additionally, workers at businesses with 30 or more employees are protected from firing or demotion for taking time off to care for their children under the NJ Family Leave Act (FLA).
Alphabet Soup - The Differences Between FLI, FLA and FMLA
FLI - NJ Family Leave Insurance. This is your wage replacement when you take paid family leave to bond with your child.
FLA - NJ Family Leave Act. This ensures that your employer places you in the same or a similar job when you return to work after taking family leave to bond with your child.
FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act. This is a Federal law that ensures that you are restored to the same or an equivalent job when you return from taking family leave due to pregnancy. FMLA does not offer wage replacement.
While strengthening paid family leave is great news for NJ families, parents still need to know about the change in order to be able to make use of it! A 2016 study by Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty found that, despite recent policy changes, many NJ parents were not aware that they could take paid family leave. In fact, as reported in ACNJ's Babies Count, more than 56,000 infants in the Garden State had a working mother in 2016, yet fewer than 28,000 total claims were filed by both fathers and mothers for time to bond with a baby. Because each parent is eligible to file a separate FLI claim, these numbers indicate that paid family leave is significantly under-utilized in NJ.
A more inclusive and effective FLI program has the potential to make New Jersey families stronger, healthier and more economically secure, but only if parents take advantage of it! Help spread the word about taking advantage of paid family leave!
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