The New Jersey Unemployment Insurance law has undergone some very important changes, and I wanted to take this opportunity to go over at least a portion of them. These changes affect employers and employees, and it will be very important for everyone in the workforce to take notice of them.
As of this past January, the “waiting week” has been eliminated. Unemployed persons can file and begin receiving benefits right away; in the past, they had to wait one week after filing before benefits could be approved.
New Jersey has now established a state emergency unemployment benefits program. These benefits are paid entirely by the state, to people who have exhausted all of their compensation but still meet the eligibility requirements for regular unemployment compensation. The amount they receive will be the same weekly benefit amount of their most recent regular unemployment compensation claim. These individuals must not be eligible for any other unemployment benefits. The emergency benefit amount will be limited to 10 times the regular weekly benefit amount that the person was receiving.
For employers, the tax table will change after July 1, 2002, because of the lower fund reserve ratio. That means the computation rate for employer contributions will be reduced. From January to June 30, 2002, the rate is 36 percent; from July 1, 2002 to June 30,2003, the rate will be 15 percent. The figure for worker contributions will also be lowered. Worker contributions to the unemployment compensation fund will be 0.1825 percent until June 30, 2003, and 0.3825 percent thereafter.
I’m sure most employers are aware that the unemployment insurance law is updated often, as are many of the state’s labor laws. That’s why it’s so important to use the latest posters in the workplace, and to stay abreast of changes in the law.
Most states now have some sort of Family Leave law in place that accommodates employees who must deal with family issues. The New Jersey Family Leave Act applies to all employers who have at least 50 employees in the state, regardless of where their office is based. The Act states that employers must grant eligible employees time off from work when they have a new child, adopt a child, or when they must care for a seriously ill parent, child or spouse. A “parent” might also be a parent-in-law or a stepparent. The NJFLA provides for up to twelve weeks of leave over a 24-month period of time.
In order to be eligible for family leave, I noticed that an individual must have worked for the covered employer for a period of at least twelve months, and must have worked at least 1,000 hours during that 12 month period.
There is a federal Family and Medical Leave Act in place that is very similar to the New Jersey law. If you’re an employee and you take leave that is covered under both acts, your leave is counted under both acts at the same time. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, whereas the New Jersey Family Leave Act allows the 12 weeks over a 24 month period.
If you believe your rights have been violated under this act, you’ll want to visit the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The statute of limitations for filing a complaint with them is 180 days from the date of the violation. They handle and investigate claims, and try to bring the parties together to work out a settlement or an agreement. Remedies may involve rehiring, monetary settlement, or penalty charges.