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The New Jersey legislature recently passed a bill expanding the state’s paid family leave. Signed into law on February 19, 2019 by NJ Governor Phil Murphy, the law includes an expanded definition of “family member,” specifically including people who grow their families through surrogacy. The law also expanded the definition of “family leave,” including caring for children born through surrogacy and for foster children.
Another notable change is the law’s paid time off protections for covered workers. Essentially, the amount of paid time off a covered employee gets under the law will be doubled. Today, employees covered by NJ’s current family leave laws can take up to six weeks of paid time off in a 12-month time period. Under the new law (effective July 1, 2020), covered workers will be able to take off 12 consecutive weeks per 12-month period. In addition, the amount of intermittent leave was also raised under the new law, from 42 days per year to 56 days.
For new parents in New Jersey who use gestational carriers to start or add to their families, the new law provides the same protections and benefits as those given to parents whose families grow through natural birth or adoption.
Not every worker in New Jersey is covered, but the new law also expands coverage to more employees. Where previous laws covered employers with at least 50 workers, the new law will protect people who work for employers with at least 30 employees. This provision of the law, and the definition of who is covered, are actually effective June 30, 2019, although some of the other provisions will not take effect until a year later.
Will other states follow suit by expanding protections to include families who use surrogacy? It will be interesting to watch other state legislatures’ actions. Contact our office to learn more about protecting your rights in surrogacy relationships.