Parents and expectant mothers in New Jersey are able to take unpaid leave from work under the federal Family Medical Leave Act or the New Jersey parental leave law. Expectant mothers are also protected under state and federal laws that prohibit pregnancy-based discrimination. New Jersey is also a state that has a paid leave program for temporary disability and parenting. If your employer is denying leave because of childbirth, temporary disability related to pregnancy, or time to spend with your new baby, you may have legal rights. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler may evaluate your case and explain what your next steps might include.
Job protection for leave taken during pregnancy
If you need to take pregnancy leave, two different types of laws may protect your job, including pregnancy discrimination laws and pregnancy leave laws. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers because of their pregnancies. If your employer allows other workers to take time off from work when they experience temporary disabilities, it must also allow you to take time off during your pregnancy if you are unable to work because of a pregnancy-related condition.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that gives employees who are eligible and who work for employers that have 50 or more workers the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work during a 12-month period for pregnancy or to take care of a serious medical condition, including a child’s condition. The leave can be taken to give parents time to bond with their new children.
New Jersey’s parental leave law allows eligible workers the right to take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for a new child. However, it does not allow workers the right to take time off from work due to pregnancy.
If you are eligible for leave under both the federal FMLA and the parental leave law in New Jersey, it is possible that you could take more than 12 weeks of leave from your job. New Jersey’s law doesn’t allow you to take time from work because of your pregnancy, but you could use up your FMLA leave during your pregnancy and then use up your parental leave after your baby is born.
Under the FMLA, eligible workers are able to take leave intermittently for medical purposes. This means that you could use some of your FMLA hours to attend prenatal appointments. However, you are not allowed to use your parental leave intermittently unless your employer agrees. If your employer does agree, you must use your parental leave within a year of your baby’s birth.
Parents who share an employer
When parents share an employer, the employer can limit the total allowed FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks. The remaining portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave could still be used for other medical reasons, however.
Getting paid while you are on leave
Leave under the FMLA and under New Jersey’s parental leave law is unpaid. You are able to use up the paid leave that you have accrued such as your vacation days, sick days, or paid time off. New Jersey also offers paid pregnancy and family leave.
In New Jersey, employers fund a temporary disability insurance program through withholdings and employer contributions. You are able to file a TDI claim if you take time off from work because of your temporary disability related to your pregnancy or to childbirth.
The program does not require that your employer give you time off from work or to give your job back to you when you are ready to go back to work. If you are also protected by the FMLA, however, your job will be protected.
New Jersey also offers a paid family leave program as a part of its TDI program. You can use up to six weeks of paid family leave to spend with your new child. It will pay you up to two-thirds of your salary while you are on leave.
Some employers also offer paternity and maternity leave benefits and short-term disability insurance. You can find out if these types of benefits are offered by talking to your HR department.
Contact Swartz Swidler
If you need to take leave because of your pregnancy or to spend time with your new child, you may have the right to do so under both state and federal law. If your employer refuses to grant leave to you or does not protect your job while you are gone, you may have legal rights. Contact Swartz Swidler to schedule a consultation.