Having a new child through adoption, childbirth, foster care, or surrogacy is an exciting time for a new parent. However, there is a lack of support for parental leave in the United States. The only federal legislation requiring employers to provide leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, this legislation does not protect all new parents and only entitles those protected to unpaid leave.
The FMLA applies to employees at public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. However, the employee is only eligible for leave if he or she meets certain conditions. The employee must work for their employer for 12 months or 1,250 hours over the last 12 months. Additionally, the employee must work at a location with 50 or more employees within 75 miles. While these restrictions limit who has access to parental leave, it does provide leave for a variety of parents. It protects mothers and fathers of newborn children, mothers and fathers of newly adopted children, and new foster parents. Additionally, surrogates and newly intended parents qualify for FMLA leave as well.
Therefore, the lack of paid parental leave protection makes individuals dependent upon their employer’s parental leave policy. However, there is a cultural shift underway demanding paid parental leave. States, such as New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington as well as Washington D.C. currently have paid parental leave programs.
New Jersey Paid Family Leave
New Jersey Family Leave Insurance provides New Jersey workers cash benefits for time off to bond with their newborn child. This includes fathers, partners, and mothers of adoptive, foster, and biological children. The State’s family leave program covers most New Jersey workers. But some employers provide Family Leave Insurance through private insurance carriers. To qualify for Family Leave Insurance employees must pay into the program throughout employment and meet minimum gross earnings requirements. However, federal employees, out-of-state employees, and contractors are not covered by the program.
Due to the lack of federal legislation, a parent’s leave can be dependent on the individual employer or state legislation. This can create a confusing and inconsistent system for new parents to navigate while trying to maintain their employment and adjusting to their new family responsibility.
Get Legal Assistance
If you feel that you were wrongly denied parental leave or need help understanding your parental leave protections, we can help. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, we take a proactive approach to each and every legal issue our clients face. 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.