The New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA) allows eligible employees to take a leave of absence from their job for a variety of reasons, like caring for a child or sick family member. It allows a certain employee to take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 24 month period without losing their jobs. Once an employee’s leave of absence is over, the employee can continue the position she held prior to the leave.
New Jersey laws also give employees the right to take time off for family and personal reasons. Leave for illnesses under the FLA can only be taken when caring for illnesses or injuries that require inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, or for conditions that require consistent medical attention. Although there are specific conditions and requirements to be eligible for this type of leave, the FLA ensures that employees will continue to have job protection throughout their period of absence from work.
Who Is Eligible for Family Leave Protection?
To be eligible under the FLA, employees must have done the following:
- Worked for the same job/employer for 12 months
- Worked at least 1,000 hours during those 12 months
- Work for a company that has at least 50 employees
Employees can generally take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave during any 24 month period:
- To care for a bond with a child, as long as the leave begins within one year of the child’s birth or adoption
- To care for a family member, or someone that is an equivalent, with a serious health condition
- To provide required care or treatment for a child during a state of emergency if their school or place of care is closed
20 days of leave are permitted within one year for employees or their family members who are victims of domestic violence or sexual harassment. New Jersey FLA should not be used for the individual’s own sickness or disability, unless it was due to domestic or sexual violence.
Who is Eligible for Paid Family Leave?
To be eligible for benefits, New Jersey employees have to meet one of the following wage requirements:
- Worked for at a minimum of 20 weeks, making at least $200 per week, during the 52 weeks preceding the claim.
- Earned at least $10,000 in wages during the 52 weeks preceding the claim.
Employees may take a leave of absence for one of the following covered reasons:
- The birth or adoption of a new child.
- Caring for any of the following individuals if they have a serious health condition: spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, parent-in law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, child, or any other blood relative.
Job Security Under the Family Leave Act
Upon returning to work, the employee is entitled to their previous position without demotion or salary reduction. If the position is no longer available, the employer must offer the employee a position similar in salary, benefits, and status. If a layoff or reduction in force took place while the employee was out on leave, the worker would still be eligible for the same rights and protections as those employees that were not on leave.
If you return to work after taking FLA leave and find that your previous position is unavailable and your employer is not willing to offer you a similar position, you should contact our offices to discuss your legal options.
Common Family Leave Act Violations
Firing an employee for taking leave is an obvious violation of the FLA, but other employer action may also be unlawful:
- Disciplining employees for taking leave for a legitimate reason.
- Excessive contact with the employee about work-related issues while on leave.
- Pressuring the employee to return to work early.
- Demoting an employee who returns from leave or offering lower salary or benefits.
- Delaying reinstatement to an employee’s position after they return from leave.
- Employer expecting you do work while on leave
- Employer denies or delays your leave
What Is Considered FLA Retaliation In New Jersey?
If you have taken leave provided by the FLA, it is important to know what retaliation looks like in case it happens. FLA retaliation often stems from employers, but can also come from coworkers in the workplace. This retaliation can take many forms, both major and minor, as long as it happens because you took leave. This can include:
- Job transfers
- Loss of benefits
- Jokes or teasing
If any of these situations has happened to you, or you feel that your rights under the FLA have otherwise been violated, contact our law firm as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Experienced New Jersey FLA Lawyers Can Help You
If you are an eligible employee and you have been denied your rights under the New Jersey Family Leave Act, or faced retaliation in the workplace for making a complaint, contact the FLA lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. today. We have offices in Red Bank, NJ and Marlton, NJ and serve clients throughout the state. We can discuss your situation and help determine the best course of action to protect your career.