New Jersey Expands Disability Benefits and Job Restoration to Organ and Bone Marrow Donors; Vermont Eyeing Paid Family and Medical Leave

New Jersey Expands Disability Benefits and Job Restoration to Organ and Bone Marrow Donors. On January 21, 2020, the Governor of New Jersey signed off on Assembly Bill 1449, an amendment to the state’s temporary disability insurance (TDI or TDB) law to make explicit that a disability as the result of an organ or bone marrow donation is a covered reason for benefit payments. The law also provides two special features for organ and bone marrow donors that don’t apply to other TDB benefit recipients:

  • The seven-day waiting period does not apply to an organ or bone marrow donation
  • Employees are entitled to job restoration, a benefit that does not apply to other benefit recipients under the law.

New Jersey’s unpaid leave law – the Family Leave Act (NJ FLA)– and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide job protection for individuals suffering from a serious health condition, but don’t specifically call out organ and bone marrow as a covered leave reason. However, a 2018 opinion letter from the federal Department of Labor has clarified that under the FMLA, “an organ donation can qualify as an impairment or physical condition that is a serious health condition under the FMLA when it involves either inpatient care or … continuing treatment…[A]n organ donation would qualify as a serious medical condition whenever it results in an overnight stay in a hospital. Of course, that is not the only means for organ donation to involve inpatient care or continuing treatment. Organ-donation surgery, however, commonly requires overnight hospitalization… and that alone suffices for the surgery and the post-surgery recovery to qualify as a serious health condition.”

Depending on the applicability of the laws to the employer and the employee’s eligibility, a New Jersey employee undergoing an organ or bone marrow donation may be entitled to job protection under multiple laws, which would run concurrently, as well as temporary disability insurance benefits.

The New Jersey amendment to the TDB law goes into effect May 20, 2020.

Vermont Sends Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill to Governor. On January 23, Vermont House Bill 107, a measure providing paid family and medical leave, passed the state House and heads to the Governor for his signature or a possible veto. It remains unclear which direction he will go, but there are indications he may veto the bill. Governor Scott has stated that he prefers a voluntary program, allowing workers to opt in.

If approved, the current bill would provide paid benefits for 12 weeks of parental bonding, 8 weeks to care for an ill family member, and 6 weeks for employee’s own medical conditions, although coverage for an employee’s own medical leave would require employees to opt in and pay an additional contribution. Employees can receive a total of 12 weeks of benefits for all reasons combined in a calendar year Contributions for bonding and family care insurance will deduct 0.20% of employee’s wages. Contributions for medical leave benefits for employees who have elected coverage will be 0.38% of employee’s wages.

If the law is signed by the Governor, effective dates have not yet been determined and will vary depending upon whether and when the Vermont Commissioner of Financial Regulation selects a private insurance carrier to administer the program. Contributions could begin as early as January 1, 2021, April 1, 2021, or July 21, 2021, while benefits may begin on July 1, 2021, October 1, 2021, or July 1, 2022.

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