New Jersey has a law giving some workers more rights to time off for the arrival of a new child or serious health condition of a family member than they get under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The NJ law also covers some workers that don't have rights under FMLA.
New Jersey also has a paid insurance program to pay workers taking time off to care for family members or to bond with a child.
There's also a state-run temporary disability insurance which pays up to 26 weeks for the worker's own illness or injury.
NJ Family Leave Act
12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 24 month period for:
- for the birth or adoption of a child, within 1 year after the arrival of the child (doesn't include placement of a foster child, but the federal FMLA does)
- the serious health condition of a child, husband, wife, civil union partner, parent, parent-in-law, step-parent
- arranging a family member’s change in care (like finding a nursing home)
- the employee’s own serious health condition is NOT covered (the federal FMLA gives rights to this time off)
When workers are eligible:
- they work for an employer with 50 employees for 20 weeks of this or last year, anywhere (federal FMLA only counts employees within 75 miles)
- they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months within the state
- they have worked 1000 hours in the 12 months before the leave (less than the federal law)
- a salaried workers who is one of the 5% of highest paid employees 5% or one of the top 7 highest paid employees do not have rights to family leave
- public and private employees are covered
- After your leave, you have a right to go back to our old (or a similar) job (unless you would've been laid off anyway).
- You have a right to continue your health benefits as if you were working.
- The federal FMLA makes a husband and wife who work at the same place share leave for a new child or family member's illness. New Jersey’s law lets each family member take their own time off.
- If leave is because of a family member's illness, you can take leave in one block, intermittent (taking days off at a time because of medical necessity), or reduced schedule (cutting back hours). Your boss can transfer you to another job at the same pay during intermittent or reduced leave.
- If leave is for a new child, you only have a right to leave in one block of time.
- Tell your boss at least 30 days ahead of time, if possible, that you need leave.
If workers are covered by both the NJFLA and federal FMLA, they run at the same time (if the leave is for a situation covered by both laws). If you have a situation only covered by one law (like an employee’s own illness covered by FMLA but not NJFLA, you could then take time under for a different situation covered by NJFLA). For pregnant workers, it means you can take FMLA time for disability and then time under NJFLA for bonding leave with the new child.
How the law is enforced: File a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights within 180 days if you aren’t allowed to take leave or if you are discriminated against because you took family leave.
New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act
Workers can get 6 weeks of paid time off for:
- Bonding within a year of a child’s arrival
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Your boss has to post and give workers information if you are covered by the disability insurance fund.
- You can take time off for a parent, husband, wife, civil union or domestic partner, or child. Child has to be under 19 years old, unless they're disabled, and includes adopted, foster, and stepchild and legal ward, child of a domestic or civil union partner.
- You get 2/3 of your usual wages, up to $524 per week ($74.85/day for intermittent leave) paid by the state insurance fund.
- Leave can be taken a day or two at a time (intermittent), instead of all at once, if there's a medical reason.
- There is a 7-day waiting period before you can collect paid family leave. If you use more than 3 weeks of leave, then you get paid for the 7 days waiting period. Your boss can make you use benefit time for the first 2 weeks of leave (the first week would count as the waiting period.)
- This law only gives you the paid time off. If you are not covered by the NJFLA or FMLA, you do not have guarantee to return to your job.
- Paid Family Leave runs at the same time as FMLA or NJFLA time off.
- You have to give at least 30 days’ notice (if possible) for birth or adoption, or you can lose 2 weeks of benefits. If you are taking intermittent leave, you have to give 15 days’ notice (if possible).
- You have to try to take the leave so it doesn’t disrupt work operations.
Pregnant women who are covered by the disability insurance can get paid up to 4 weeks before they give birth and 6-8 weeks off after the birth. then they can take Family Leave off to bond with the child.
Family Leave During Unemployment
There is also a program to pay workers unemployment benefits to bond with a new child or take care of a sick family member.
The laws: N.J. Rev. Stat. § 34:11B-1 to 15 (NJ Family Leave Act)
N.J. Rev. Stat. § 43:21-25 et seq. (Temporary Disability)