When talking about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and Family Leave Insurance (FLI), which program(s):Â Â
ensure the employee returns to the same or similar position with pay and benefits?
can an employee take for their own medical condition?
cover care for a newborn or adopted child for bonding?
total 12 weeks unpaid?
total 6 weeks paid?
require a minimum of 50 employees on staff?
require a 7 day waiting period?
need to be included in your employee handbook and posted in a public place in the office?
If you do not know all of the answers to these questions, you better find out quick or make sure you have a designated person in your human resources department that knows the ins and outs of these acts. This article will give you a quick overview and provide you with a list of what you need to know about how your company will handle FLI requests.
For the past six months, your company has been collecting payments from employees to meet the requirements of the NJ Family Leave program. Fast forward to two weeks ago, on July 1, the first eligible employees were able to elect to use FLI in New Jersey. FLI gives employees “a monetary benefit (not a leave entitlement), which protects the covered individual against wage loss suffered because of the need of the covered individual to participate in providing care for a family member who has a serious health condition or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child.”
FLI allows employees–with a minimum of 20 base weeks of earnings of $143 or who have earned $7,200 over 52 with current employer–to take up to six weeks of paid leave for qualified care giving. The time can be taken together or intermittently. This benefit is tied to the state you work in, not the state you live in, so NJ employees who live outside of the state are eligible.
Qualified care giving includes two types, a serious health condition and bonding. A serious health condition is an illness, injury or physical or mental condition which requires inpatient care, continuing medical treatment or continuing supervision by caregiver–15 days notice is needed unless it is an emergency or unforeseen event. Bonding develops a psychological and emotional attachment between a child and his or her primary caregiver(s)–30 days notice is needed.
Applicants apply directly with the state, with an accompanying form from the employer. Similar to FMLA and NJFLA, full documentation and official medical certifications are needed to apply for FLI. Simply signing up for FLI, does not ensure that employee returns to the same or similar position with pay and benefits, so employers who qualify for FMLA (i.e., 50 employees or more) should present that information at the same time. Failure to do so could make your company liable if you chose to terminate the employee.
Steps to ensure your company is ready for the first FLI request:
Choose if your company will be using a state or private plan to fulfill the FLI.
Determine if employees need to use some or all of their paid-time off (i.e., vacation, sick, personal) prior to using FLI.
Decide if your company will subtract PTO time from their six weeks or allow them to take the full six weeks of FLI as additional time.
Educate supervisors on how the program works in case the employees who they are responsible for has questions; and so they have a plan for whether they will be seeking temporary help for that time.
UPDATE YOUR HANDBOOK to reflect the new policies and procedures for FLI and any other changes you have made.
Make sure you have forms on hand to present to qualified employees. Assign someone in your HR department to the record keeping to ensure your employees have the time in the bank for these programs. Reports of FLI are due to the state January 30, 2010 for July 1-December 31, 2009.
When determining your policies for FLI, remember to consider the economic realities of what your company can commit to your employees. Even though this may not be a hard cost to your company, you want to make sure you plan for consistent productivity.
Not in New Jersey? Your state may be the next one to accept this plan. Pennsylvania and New York are already investigating whether their states want to have similar plans.
If you are looking for a specialist in employee benefits, including FMLA, NJFLA and FLI, contact The Rosen Group. Our highly qualified candidates can make sure your program is compliant with the state’s standards and ensure your process flows smoothly. They’ll even tell you the answers to the questions above.
For more information on:
FMLA, visit www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla.
NJFLA, visit www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/law.html#FLA.
FLI, visit lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/fli/fliindex.html.
© 2009, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.