In an effort to revise laws concerning disability leave to promote availability to the public, two bills sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Assemblyman Dr. Herb Conaway and Assemblywoman Joann Downey were approved by the full Assembly on Thursday with votes of 70-8 and 56-23 respectively.
“The last thing a mother should have to worry about during a pregnancy or after childbirth, especially one that resulted in a disability, is the stress of filing for multiple benefit programs,” said Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “These pieces of legislation allow for the consolidation of the filing process as well as easily-accessible tools and information for family leave benefit applications, which will ultimately save time and worry for new mothers. In addition, we will be able to study more in-depth data reports on these benefits and programs so we can continue to ease this burden for our citizens.”
One measure, A-2762 (Greenwald, Mukherji, Conaway) states that when a covered individual applies for temporary disability benefits for disability resulting from pregnancy or the birth of a child, the plan administering the covered individual’s benefits must automatically process an application for that individual to its paid family leave benefits program, unless the individual opts out of that program.
The application for benefits shall be processed to allow the family leave benefits, if approved, to begin immediately following the end of the temporary disability benefits, unless the individual notifies the plan he or she would like to postpone or opt out of the family leave program.
“When a new or expecting mother is going through a pregnancy or recovering from childbirth, especially when complications result, the State should not be adding to the stress with multiple, separate applications for temporary disability and family leave benefits,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “In addition to simplifying and consolidating the filing process for mothers and families at a time when their focus is elsewhere, these bills will also ensure we are better publicizing our state’s disability and family leave programs and ensuring New Jersey residents are aware of their options.”
“By combining temporary disability and paid family leave benefit applications and creating a dual application process, we are not only reducing stress on new mothers but also allowing families to receive their benefits in a more timely manner,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This will be a significant help to mothers at a time when they are juggling the many other challenges of life a newborn brings.”
The other measure, A-2763 (Greenwald, Downey) requires the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to provide additional data in the annual reports of the temporary disability and family leave insurance programs. These reports would be expanded to include the occupations of workers receiving benefits, the regular weekly wages earned by the workers, the number of workers receiving the benefits that work part-time, full-time, and belong to a labor union or employee organization, whether the employer is a private or governmental entity, as well as more information about the employees themselves.
“By requiring additional data results from these programs, we will be able to really see what resources New Jersey residents benefit from most and what resources they need more of,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “More data will allow us do a more in-depth analysis of our temporary disability and family leave insurance programs and continue to better them for our employees.”