Yes, you can apply for paternity leave in New Jersey. In 2009, New Jersey became the third state in the country to pass a law for paid family leave. 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.
Paternity leave allows new fathers to take time off work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child. Governed by state laws and complemented by federal regulations, paternity leave is designed to support the well-being of families during this period.
Eligibility Criteria for Paternity Leave in NJ
To qualify for paternity leave in New Jersey, individuals must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as the employee’s status (full-time or part-time), length of employment, and the size and type of job.
Wage Requirements for Leave Eligibility
Under the Paid Family Leave Act, employees who want to apply for paternity leave 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 illness. An unpaid leave for medical reasons may be granted for employees covered by the FMLA or the NJFMLA.
Duration of Leave
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.
Notice Period Requirements Before Taking Leave
In New Jersey, employees planning to take paternity leave are required to notify their employers in advance. The general rule is to provide at least 30 days’ notice for foreseeable events like childbirth. However, if the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees should inform their employer as soon as possible. The notice should ideally be in writing and include the anticipated duration of the leave. Employers may also require an employee to provide a certification or documentation supporting the need for leave. This advance notice is crucial for employers to manage workforce requirements and for employees to ensure their leave is properly recorded and approved.
How Paternity Leave Interacts with FMLA and NJFMLA
Paternity leave in New Jersey crosses over with federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFMLA). Understanding this interaction is crucial for employees to fully comprehend their rights:
- FMLA: When a father takes paternity leave, it typically counts toward the 12 weeks of leave permitted under FMLA in a 12-month period. It’s important to note that FMLA applies to certain employers and requires specific employee eligibility criteria.
- NJFMLA: NJFMLA offers up to 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period and applies to employers with 30 or more employees. Similar to FMLA, paternity leave taken under NJFMLA may run concurrently with any FMLA leave taken.