Employees in New Jersey might be eligible to take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), or both. These laws require covered employees to provide employees with job-protected leave for qualifying reasons. However, there are some distinct differences between the FMLA and the NJFLA that you should understand. Here is some information about both the FMLA and the NJFLA from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
NJFLA vs. FMLA
There are several important differences between the FMLA and the NJFLA. Based on the company for which you work and the length of your employment, you could be eligible to take time off from work under either law or both.
The FMLA covers all public employers as well as private employers with at least 50 employees who have worked at least 20 weeks during the year. Eligible employees include people who have worked for a public employer or a covered private employer for a minimum of 12 months and have completed at least 1,250 hours in the past year.
The FMLA allows eligible employees to take leave from work for the following reasons:
- To give birth
- Care for a newborn infant, adopted child, or child placed in the home through foster care
- Care for the employee’s serious health condition
- Care for the serious health condition of an immediate family member
- Care for a military family member who suffered a service-related injury
- Prepare for a military family member’s impending deployment
In most cases, a qualifying employee will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks off from work in a year either in a single chunk or intermittently. When the leave is related to caring for a military service member or preparing for their deployment, the employee can take up to 26 weeks off from work during a year.
While you are on leave, your employer must continue your employer-provided medical insurance benefits. When you return, your employer must restore you to your job or a similar position in terms of pay, benefits, and others.
New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees working at least 20 weeks during the year are covered by the NJFLA. Employees are eligible for leave under the NJFLA if they have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during the past year and have been employed for at least 12 months.
Eligible employees can take leave under the NJFLA for the following reasons:
- Give birth
- Care for a newly born or adopted child or a child placed in the home through foster care
- Care for an immediate family member or parent-in-law with a serious medical condition
The NJFLA does not allow employees to take leave to care for their serious health conditions. It also doesn’t provide leave for a family member’s military service.
The NJFLA allows people to take 12 weeks off from work in 24 months, while the FMLA allows employees to take 12 weeks off from work in 12 months.
Qualifying for Leave
While both laws have similar qualifications, some employees might qualify to take leave under the NJFLA while not qualifying for leave under the FMLA. For example, an employee who has completed 1,000 hours in the past year for an employer with 50 employees and has been employed for 12 months could take leave under the NJFLA but not the FMLA.
By contrast, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months. The FMLA covers employers with 50 employees working within 75 miles of each other, while the NJFLA covers all employers operating in the state with 50 employees regardless of how far apart they work.
Separate Leave Under Each Law
In some cases, an employee might be entitled to take leave separately under the FMLA and the NJFLA if they are eligible and work for an employer that is covered under both laws. For example, an employee could take time away from work to give birth and bond with their new child under the NJFLA for up to 12 weeks in 24 months. If they later suffer a serious health condition, the employee could then take leave under the FMLA for up to 12 weeks in 12 months. Other situations could also entitle you to take leave under both of these laws.
What if Your Employer Denies Your Leave Request?
If you are an eligible employee working for an employer who is covered by either or both of these laws and has requested leave for a qualifying reason, your employer should grant your request. If your employer denies your request, you should talk to an experienced FMLA and NJFLA lawyer at Swartz Swidler immediately. Depending on the facts and circumstances, you might be able to secure a court order requiring your employer to grant your leave request, pay damages to you, or reinstate you to your job.
Contact an Employment Lawyer Today
Our experienced employment lawyers represent employees in New Jersey whose rights have been violated under either the NJFLA or the FMLA and can help you understand your case and the potential legal remedies that might be available. We offer free consultations to enable you to understand your rights. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation at (856) 685-7420.