Greenwald, DeAngelo Legislation Improving Access to Disability Leave Program Advances
A bill package sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo revising laws concerning temporary disability leave was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee Thursday. Under the first bill, A-2762 (Greenwald) , a covered individual, who applies for temporary disability benefits as a result of pregnancy or the birth of a child, would automatically be applied to be enrolled in paid family leave benefits program under the individual's insurance paid family leave benefits program, unless the individual opts out of that program. The application for benefits would 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. The second bill, A-2763 (Greenwald) 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. The third bill, A-2764 (Greenwald, DeAngelo) , directs the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) to design and provide the public with information on a covered employee's rights and obligations to temporary disability insurance, family temporary disability leave, and family leave. The information would be posted on the Department's website, via webinar, or other form of digital media, to clarify how an employee can apply for benefits and what documents are required to do so. Under the bill, the Commissioner would be required to publicize the availability of the webinar to employers in the state and to promote it as a tool for employers to provide employees with information regarding these laws. "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." "It is typically a strenuous time in a family that causes them to need family leave benefits. The situation should not be made more complicated or worrisome by complicated instructions or hurdles in the application process," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The goal of this bill is to provide easy-to-follow, well-informed online information for New Jerseyans seeking to obtain necessary benefits." These bills passed with 9-0, 6-0-3, and 6-3 votes, respectively, and all await further consideration from the Assembly.