Employee benefits in the United States constitute a large, complex and ever-changing set of programs. They are either mandated by federal or state law, such as unemployment insurance and workers' compensation or are voluntarily provided by the employer to help attract, retain and motivate employees and to contribute to the organization's strategic objectives.
Several New Jersey laws make monetary benefits available to provide some financial security for employees unable to work because of involuntary job loss, disability or certain family-related issues.
For employers the rights of employees to take job-protected leave for various reasons can cause scheduling nightmares, administrative headaches, and serious problems if those rights are violated, according to John Sarno, president of Employers Association of New Jersey (EANJ).
While it’s possible to learn workplace laws through on-the-job experience, most employers expect the Human Resource professionals they hire will already have a firm understanding of the laws governing the profession, he says. “As such, if a staff person’s goal is to work in human resources management, then it’s important to develop the proper understanding to perform the job.”
No area in the employment relationship is as complex and subject to change as employee benefits. Every time the New Jersey legislature passes a new law or amends an old one, it adds to the demands on an employer's time and attention. This situation is unlikely to change.
For example, in 2020 New Jersey legislation expanded the scope of the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, the New Jersey Temporary Disability Law to cover absences related to epidemics such as the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The law was enacted to create immediate enhanced eligibility for employee leaves in New Jersey.
Also, in 2020, New Jersey amended its Temporary Disability Benefits Law to provide job-protected leave during “a period of disability” resulting from the donation of any organ or bone marrow.
And, according to Sarno, in an eye-opening opinion letter issued by the U.S. Department of Labor parents attending certain school meetings for the benefit of their children are entitled to leave for their absences. The agency concluded that the need to attend school meetings to discuss individualized education programs for children with serious health conditions triggers intermittent Federal leave law protection.
Starting in October, EANJ will be offering its acclaimed HR Administration Program. Led by Amy M. Vazquez and Robin M. Ross, experts in HR regulatory and legislative requirements including compliance with Federal Family Medical Leave Act, NJ Family Leave Act, State Plan Disability, Unemployment Compensation, OSHA, federal and State Wage/Hour, among others.
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