Greenwald, DeAngelo, Mukherji & Conaway Legislation Improving Access to Disability Leave Program
A bill package sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, and Assemblyman Herb Conaway revising laws concerning temporary disability leave was approved by the full Assembly on Thursday. "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." The bills: · A-2762 (Greenwald, Mukherji, Conaway) , 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. · 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. · A-2764 (Greenwald, DeAngelo, Mukherji) , 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. "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 the webinar is to provide easy-to-follow, well-informed online information for New Jerseyans seeking to obtain necessary benefits." "When a new or expecting mother is going through 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."