In 2009, New Jersey became the third state in the country to pass a law for paid family leave. The problem is that many people do not know about it and therefore cannot take advantage of it. Many mothers consider taking a leave from their jobs for the birth of a child, but fathers should know that they are also eligible to take paternity leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows covered employees to take a leave from their jobs for parenting or caretaking, but that leave is unpaid.
New Jersey Paid Family Leave
Employees who want to apply for paternity leave under the paid family leave act must meet certain wage requirements. In the 52 weeks preceding the claim they must have either:
- Earned $8,400 in wages, or
- Worked for at least 20 weeks, making at least $168 per week
Leave may be granted for the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. That person can be a spouse or child, civil union partner, or registered domestic partner. Paid family leave cannot be taken for the employee’s own illness. An unpaid leave for medical reasons may be granted for employees covered by the FMLA or the NJFMLA.
An employee who takes paternity leave must do so in the 12 months after the birth or adoption of the child. If the leave is for the birth of a child, the employee or the spouse/partner must be the biological parent of the baby. The leave must be for a period of more than seven consecutive days. Non-consecutive leave days may be taken with the consent of the employer, though each non-consecutive period of leave must be taken in seven day increments. A notice period of 30 days is required before starting leave, otherwise benefits may be reduced by 14 days.
Anyone granted a leave may collect two-thirds of their pay for six weeks. There is a cap for the total amount which in 2016 was a weekly benefit of $615.
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health conducted a study of the first five years of the New Jersey paid family leave act to assess its effectiveness for the state population. They used focus groups as well as interviews with parents from Trenton, Newark, and Camden. The families who had used the benefits were grateful for the time off and financial support they received, but many other parents had never heard of the law.
Middletown Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Help Individuals Resolve Issues With Leave
Fathers have a right to paternity leave under the law, if you have been denied a leave by your employer, a dedicated Middletown employment lawyer from McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can advise you on your rights. Call us at 732-842-6500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation or contact us online. We have offices in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey.