Family Leave Insurance vs. New Jersey TDB – Which Should Your Workers Claim?
New Jersey recently expanded its statutory benefits to include Family Leave Insurance alongside New Jersey TDB coverage. Family leave insurance covers new parents to stay home for up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child within the first 12 months of the event. FLI also provides other benefits, outlined in our post comparing New Jersey FLI and New York Paid Family Leave.
It’s important for New Jersey business owners, Human Resources managers, human capital management teams, and absence management departments to understand when an employee should claim New Jersey TDB and when an FLI claim is appropriate.
What is Family Leave Insurance in NJ?
Family leave insurance pays up to 67% of a worker’s average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks. The program is employee-funded and provided through the state of New Jersey. The weekly benefit caps out at $971.61, while the maximum annual contribution in 2021 is $385.34.
A parent can take leave within the first 12 months of birth, adoption or fostering event to bond with and care for the child. Under the new FLI law, both parents could, theoretically, take leave within the first year. If one parent took off for 12 weeks, the other parent could take off for the following 12 weeks, prolonging the time before they have to find childcare for the baby.
What Is New Jersey TDB?
Prior to the introduction of FLI, the parent who gave birth to the child could file a TDB claim immediately following the birth to recover from childbirth. Subsequently, as the mother was healing and resting, she could also bond with the child.
TDB covers 85% of your average weekly wage up to $993 per week. Premium costs are shared between employees and the employer.
The non-birthing parent is not permitted to file TDB to take time off with the child, since TDB covers “disability” for the claimant. It is income replacement for people who cannot work due to a medical illness, disability, or condition of their own.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance notes that pregnancy is “covered the same way as a disability” due to the physical limitations it brings to new and expectant mothers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, ““If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee.”
Pregnant mothers experiencing medical issues related to the pregnancy can also file a TDB claim if their condition prohibits them from working. Examples would be a pregnant person who is put on bed rest by their OB/GYN, someone with pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), uncontrolled gestational diabetes, and other complications resulting from pregnancy.
TDB usually covers up to four weeks before the due date and six weeks after for natural childbirth and 8 weeks for a c-section.
Can You Use FLI and New Jersey TDB Together?
A mother recovering from childbirth and caring for a newborn qualifies for both TDB and FLI.
So which benefit is the appropriate one to claim? Immediately following childbirth, the mother should file a TDB claim for her recovery period, either six weeks or eight weeks. The leave might be longer for serious complications or due to quarantine.
Once TDB benefits expire, working parents can receive FLI benefits for up to 12 weeks. The benefits cannot be taken concurrently but can be taken consecutively. They can also return to work after TDB runs out and then make an FLI claim at any time before the child’s firth birthday.
For instance, the birthing mother may collect TDB for eight weeks, and then return to work. The other parent could file FLI at the same time, immediately following childbirth, or wait until the birthing parent returns to work and then file FLI to care for the newborn. After 12 weeks, the birthing parent could then file FLI to care for the newborn when the other parent returns to work. The baby would be nearly 8 months old by this time.
Waiting Period for New Jersey TDB
It’s important for New Jersey employees to understand there is a one-week waiting period when you file TDB for plans covered under the state fund. By privatizing TDB coverage, New Jersey business owners may be able to eliminate the waiting period and save money by bundling ancillary benefits such as vision, dental, Group Life / AD&D, accident insurance, and critical illness coverage.
Contact the experts at EZTDB for more information on how to provide enhanced benefits in your workplace.