Last month, New Jersey amended its Family Leave Act to expand the protections it offers to employees in several key ways. The Family Leave Act is a law that entitles covered employees to take up to 12 weeks off from work over a 24 month period to care for a family member with a serious illness, for childbirth or adoption, or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. It requires employers to reinstate employees at the end of a covered family leave, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees because they took time off pursuant to the Act.
Some of the new protections of the Family Leave Act went into effect immediately, but others do not go into effect until June 1, 2019. For example, the Family Leave Act currently only applies to employees who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Starting on June 1, 2019, it will apply to employers that have at least 30 employees. As a result, many more employees will be covered by the Act.
Similarly, the term “family member” currently includes only children, parents, spouses and civil union partner. Effective June 1, 2019, family member also will include parents-in-law, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners, “any other individual related by blood to the employee” and anyone else with whom the employee can show he or she has a “close association . . . which is the equivalent of a family relationship.”