Ruiz Bill to Revise Temporary Disability Leave Policy Clears Senate

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would streamline current policy regarding the application for temporary disability leave insurance and family leave insurance cleared the Senate today.

“New and expecting parents should be able to focus on taking care of themselves and their families without worrying about paperwork or benefits,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Many families across the state are living paycheck to paycheck. They should not have to worry about a gap in insurance coverage while on leave for the birth of a child.”

The bill, S-1317, would require an application for family leave insurance to automatically be processed whenever an individual applies for temporary disability insurance due to pregnancy or childbirth, unless the individual opts out. Family leave insurance would begin immediately after temporary disability benefits end, so that there is no gap in coverage. Automatic registration will fast track the existing process preventing delays in payments. It would also increase enrollment in family leave insurance, a highly valuable but underused program.

The automatic enrollment would apply to those enrolling in the state temporary disability insurance plan, and those enrolling in a private plan which offers both temporary disability and family leave insurance. Private insurers who do not offer family leave insurance would be required to inform those enrolling in temporary disability insurance due to pregnancy or childbirth of how to apply to the state family leave insurance.

Those using the program would be required to provide notification of when they plan to return to work, and if they return to work early. The bill would allow individuals a minimum four weeks of benefits before the delivery date and six weeks of benefits after the delivery date, and would allow for a doctor to prescribe more time if necessary.

This bill is a part of a number of reforms to New Jersey’s paid family leave program to improve efficiency.

The bill was released from the Senate today by a vote of 34-0.