There is nothing more exciting and hopeful than bringing a new baby into the world. However, sometimes these feelings of unconditional love and joy can be overshadowed by worries over finances and job security. If you just had a baby and are concerned about losing wages while on maternity or paternity leave, here is what you need to know.
Does New Jersey Have Paid Maternity Leave?
Yes. New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance program (NJFLI) provides New Jersey workers 12 weeks of partially paid monetary benefits to bond with your newborn, adopted or foster child. Spouses who work in New Jersey and take paternity leave, can also receive benefits.
To qualify for family leave, you must have worked 20 weeks earning at least $200 a week or have earned a combined total of $11,000 in four quarters (the base year). The base year is 52 weeks and is determined by the date you apply for NJFLI. To determine if you meet the minimum earnings requirements, go to www.myleavebenefits.nj.gov.
Under New Jersey law, if your employer offers its own paid leave plan, the benefits must be equal to or better than the state plan. You are not allowed to collect maternity/paternity leave benefits from both your employer and the state.
Certain classes of employees are ineligible for benefits. This includes federal government employees, out of state employees or workers that are not technically employees, such as contractors.
How Much Will I Receive on Maternity/Paternity Leave?
New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workplace Development is responsible for calculating your payments during your leave. Generally, you are paid 85% of your average weekly wages. For 2021, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $903 per week.
Can I Receive Benefits If I Took Leave Before I Had My Baby?
If you had to miss work before you gave birth due to a pregnancy complication, you may be eligible to receive payments through New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program. To receive TDI payments, your healthcare provider must certify you were unable to do your job due to medical complications.
TDI benefits are usually payable up to four weeks before the expected due date and an additional six weeks afterward (or 8 weeks in the case of a c-section). You can receive TDI over a longer period if you suffer from pregnancy or post-partum complications. Your medical provider must certify that your disabling postpartum complications are keeping you from returning to work.
Although you might qualify for both NJFLI and TDI, you cannot collect benefits from both programs simultaneously. So, if you suffered pregnancy complications that continued after you gave birth, but you maxed out your TDI payments, you may still be eligible to receive FLI benefits.
Can My Employer Terminate Me While I am Out on Maternity Leave?
No. The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) requires all large companies (those with 30 or more employees) to provide employees with 12 weeks of job protected leave during any 24-month period. This protected leave is available to employees who were employees for at least a year. The leave can be for bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster care child. It can also be to provide care for a seriously ill or injured loved one. Prior to taking the leave, you need to provide notice to your employer which varies based on the reason. For a newborn, adopted, or foster care child, you need to give your employer at least 30 days’ notice.
While you are out on leave, you are entitled to receive your employer’s health insurance benefits. You cannot collect unemployment insurance or workers compensations benefits.
When you return to work, your employer is required to return you to the same position that you had prior to your leave. In addition, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you for taking the leave.
Get Legal Assistance
Do you believe you have been denied wages while out on maternity leave or you have been retaliated against for taking leave? Your employer may be violating state and/or federal law. McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has experienced lawyers who handle these cases and is happy to help you. Please call our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800, or our Newark, New Jersey office at 973-787-9040 to find out more.