The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) on July 1 gave New Jerseyans good reasons to be happy about being employed in the Garden State.
As of July 1 – eligible New Jersey workers can take more time off and receive a larger percentage of their wages under the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance and Family Leave Insurance programs.
Also, NJDOL announced that it would begin providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment this week to New Jersey workers who have exhausted their state and federal jobless benefits.
Under both the Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance programs, eligible workers can now receive up to 85 percent of their average weekly salary, an increase from two-thirds, with a maximum benefit of $881 per week, up from $667.
In addition, workers can now receive up to 12 consecutive weeks of Family Leave benefits per year, which is double the previous six-week allowance. Workers who take intermittent Family Leave time off can claim up to 56 days, up from the previously permitted 42 days.
Claimants whose first day of leave is July 1 or later are eligible for the expanded benefits.
“New Jersey is a recognized national leader in workers’ rights and income-sustaining benefits programs, and the expansion of our generous benefits further demonstrates the Murphy Administration’s dedication to the health and well-being of our workers,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “These increased benefits will enhance income and job security for our state’s workers during the times in their lives when they need it most.”
“Workers should not have to risk losing their job or their income in order to take care of themselves and their loved ones during important life milestones or health adversities. We thank the Governor and our legislative partners for their dedication to New Jersey workers.”
Also new effective July 1 is an option for workers with more than one job to take leave from one employer while continuing to work for another, as long as their usual work schedule is not exceeded. Weekly benefit rates are based solelyon wages earned from the employment from which the worker takes leave.
Workers can use Family Leave to bond with a new child or to care for any loved one who is blood-related or a family-like relation. Temporary Disability can be used for pregnancy, childbirth, or a serious health condition.
A law enacted last year (P.L. 2019, chapter 37) increased the level of wages subject to wage taxes effective January 1 for workers covered under the Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance programs to fund the increases in benefits. The taxable wage base is $134,900 for 2020 for workers contributing to these programs
To qualify for Temporary Disability or Family Leave benefits this year, an applicant must have earned at least $200 per week for 20 base weeks, or alternatively, have earned at least $10,000 during the base weeks. Benefit eligibility criteria are based on the state minimum wage in effect on October 1, 2019, when the minimum wage in New Jersey was $10/hour for most employees.
For more information on Temporary Disability and Family Leave, please visit: myleavebenefits.nj.gov
In addition, NJ has thrown unemployed workers a lifeline. NJDOL announced that it would begin providing 20 weeks of extended unemployment this week to New Jersey workers who have exhausted their state and federal jobless benefits.
The state extension kicks in after claimants exhaust up to 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). The additional 20 weeks brings to 59 the maximum number of weeks of benefits an eligible claimant may receive at this time.
Claimants will be automatically enrolled into extended benefits as their federal extension ends. They do not need to contact an agent or reapply.
The state is able to offer these extended benefits because it has reached federally mandated requirements, such as the rate of unemployment, which was recorded at 15.2 percent in May.
“New Jersey went from being at almost full employment last winter to double-digit unemployment almost overnight,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “These triggers are put in place for just such eventualities – so that claimants have access to an income safety net for an extended period of time during times of high unemployment.”
All the states except South Dakota have begun offering extended benefits.
Independent contractors, self-employed workers, and others receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will see their benefits end in December, after a maximum of 46 weeks, which includes extended benefits.
Additionally, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which brought an additional $600 weekly payment to everyone collecting unemployment, runs through July 25.