State Laws Update: New Jersey & Washington

New Jersey

New Jersey has approved expansions to its Family Leave program, with enhancements starting this year and in 2020. Effective February 19, 2019, the definition of “family member” under the Family Leave Act (FLA) and for claims beginning on or after February 19th under Family Leave Insurance (FLI) was expanded to include caring for children of any age, domestic partners, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law and anyone else related by blood or who is the “equivalent” of family. Also, foster parents and parents of a child born using a surrogate now may claim FLI benefits while bonding with the child. The seven-day waiting period for FLI benefits has also been eliminated.

Effective February 19, 2019, employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of reduced schedule leave over a period of 12 consecutive months.  Previously, employees were allowed to take 12 weeks of reduced schedule leave, but not beyond 24 consecutive weeks.  Beginning June 30th of this year, protected leave requirements under FLA will be applicable to more employees working in the state, as the threshold for businesses will decrease from 50 or more employees to 30 or more employees.

Beginning January 1, 2020 employee contributions will increase due to the increase in taxable wages. It is estimated that some employees will pay up to $100 annually.  Starting in July 2020, Employees will be eligible for up to 85% of their average weekly wage (AWW), to approximately $860 a week. In addition to this weekly benefit increase, employees will be entitled to claim up to 12 consecutive weeks of paid family leave benefits (presently only 6 weeks are allowed). New Jersey will also enhance its intermittent and reduced schedules offered under the law beginning July 2020. Eligible employees will be able to take intermittent leave for up to 56 days (presently 42 days per year).

Washington

The Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WAPFML) program’s benefits will soon begin. Premium collections from employees were allowed effective January 1, 2019. Employers that intend to withhold the employee portion but have yet to start collections can begin withholdings at any time provided they give employees at least one pay period’s notice. Premium withholdings cannot be withheld retroactively, and any missed collections must be paid by the employer, but there is no penalty for starting collections after January 1st.

The first reporting and remitting due date has been pushed back to July 31st. For 2019 only, the first and second quarter’s reporting and contributions will be submitted in the month of July. Starting July 1st, employers or their authorized agents will file quarterly reports by logging onto the WAPFML customer management system portal. Employers can submit the information to the portal either by manually entering their employees’ data or submitting a CSV file. Additionally, bulk filing will be available for those agencies that are reporting for more than one employer.

For more information, and an updated employer toolkit guide, visit the WAPFML Employer page.

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