On February 19, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed A3975 into law.
In addition to modifying the New Jersey Family Leave Act and the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Insurance Program (see “NEW LAW: Important Changes To New Jersey Family Leave Act And The New Jersey Paid Family Leave Insurance Program”), this bill also modifies and greatly expands the employee leave protections under the New Jersey SAFE Act.
What Is The NJ SAFE Act?
Under the NJ SAFE Act, New Jersey employers with 25+ employees are required to grant eligible employees a 20-day leave of absence if the employee or the employee’s family member has been the victim of domestic violence or a sexually violent offense.
Under the amended version, there are several changes that took immediate effect:
- Employees taking NJ SAFE Leave Act are eligible for NJFLI Benefits.
- The definition of the following term has been expanded (the new language is indicated in italics):
- “Family member” means the employee’s parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner individual, or any other individual related by blood to the employee, and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.
- Employers may no longer require employees use their accrued paid time off for domestic violence leave.
It is recommended that employers prepare for these changes to the New Jersey SAFE Act and make any necessary policy revisions.
The Women’s Economic Security Act, a new Minnesota law, attempts to break-down workplace barriers faced by women. New provisions will take effect on August 1, 2014.
New requirements includes:
- All employees, both men and women, the express right to discuss their wages, and prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against employees for discussing their or other employees’ wages.
- Extends Minnesota’s protected classifications to include “familial status” protection. Familial status is defined as “the condition of one or more minors being domiciled with (1) their parent or parents or the minor’s legal guardian or (2) the designee of the parent or parents or guardian with the written permission of the parent or parents or guardian.”
- Employers who have 21 or more employees at a worksite must provide a reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees who have worked 12 consecutive months and on average half of a full-time schedule as defined by the employer.
- The definition of an employee for purposes of medical leave has been modified to include an employee who has worked 12 months for the employer, not just 12 consecutive months. For new parent leave, the time allowed is increased to 12 weeks, and can be taken within 12 months after the birth or adoption of the child, or when the child leaves the hospital. Leave can also be used when needed for prenatal care, or incapacity due to pregnancy or childbirth.
- Family leave is expanded to include time necessary for the illness or injury of the employee’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and grandchild, including step-grandchild.
In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal held that an employee can decline to use FMLA leave, even if the underlying reason for seeking the leave would have invoked FMLA protection. The plaintiff in Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, had requested a leave to care for her sick father in Guatemala (FMLA-qualifying reason for leave). Plaintiff made it clear that she wanted to use her two-weeks of vacation and that she didn’t want any additional leave. Plaintiff’s supervisor asked her if she was certain that she did not require any additional leave. Plaintiff repeatedly responded that she didn’t want extra leave. The manager also informed the plaintiff that if she determined at a later date that additional leave was required, that plaintiff should contact HR. Plaintiff failed to return to work after exhausting her two-weeks of vacation and she did not contact HR or any other manager. Plaintiff was terminated for violating the company’s “no-call, no-show” policy. Plaintiff sued for intervention with her FMLA rights. The case went before a jury who ultimately determined that plaintiff had refused FMLA leave and that her manager had “inquired further” (required under the FMLA) with the employee to clarify that the plaintiff did not intend to take her FMLA leave. The Ninth Circuit upheld the verdict. To review the written opinion, go to www.findlaw.com.
Maryland has enacted legislating authorizing certain employees to take leave from work on the day that an immediate family member is leaving for, or returning from, active duty outside the United States as a member of the armed forces. The employer coverage and employee eligibility mirror those of FMLA. The day’s leave is unpaid, however an employee may voluntarily choose to take vacation time or other PTO to provide pay. The law is effective October 1, 2013, and employers should update their policies accordingly.
Current Minnesota law allows an employee to use sick leave provided by an employer to care for their sick or injured children who are under age 18 or under 20 attending a secondary school. Beginning August 1, 2013, employees may also use sick time to care for an adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent or stepparent for reasonable periods of time. Sick leave use for any individual other than the employee or their child may be limited to no less than 160 hours in a 12 month period. Employers with 21 or more employees at at least one site are covered. Review your practices now to ensure your in compliance by the effective date.