The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) enables New Jersey employees to take unpaid time off from work for specific family related issues without risking the loss of your job. This includes the serious illness of your spouse, child or parent and the birth or adoption of a child. A parent includes stepparent and parent-in-law.
How Long Can I Take Off Under NJFLA?
The maximum leave allowed under this law is twelve weeks in a twenty-four month period, which begins the first day you take NJFLA leave. If you are taking care of a family member with a serious health condition, your leave need not be continuous. Instead you may request a reduced work schedule or take intermittent leave.
Who Is Covered Under NJFLA?
The NJFLA applies to employers with no less than 50 employees worldwide who have been working a minimum of twenty weeks during the previous or current year. To avail yourself of this law you must work for a covered employer in New Jersey for a minimum of twelve months before requesting the leave. During those twelve months you must have worked at least 1,000 base hours. However, if you are one of the seven highest paid employees at your job, or if your base salary is within the highest five percent of all your company’s employees and your absence will have a substantial negative effect on your employer’s business, he may deny you leave. Your employer must provide you with proper notice that you are in this category.
To take leave for the birth of a child or an adoption, you must give your employer at least 30 days notice of your impending leave. If you are applying for NJFLA for a family member’s serious health problem, typically you are required to give fifteen days notice. Unlike its federal counterpart, NJFLA doesn’t cover time off for your own disability.
Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is fairly similar to New Jersey’s state law. However, one major difference is the ability to take leave under the FMLA for your own disability or serious medical condition. How often you can take leave differs as well, providing for the same maximum of twelve weeks, but in a twelve month period, rather than twenty-four. And though NJFLA applies to employers with 50 employees located anywhere in the world, FMLA is more restrictive. It applies to employers with a minimum of 50 employees that are located within 75 miles of one another.
How NJFLA and FMLA Work Together
When you apply for leave for reasons that are covered under both laws, the time you take is counted against both your 12 week/24 month NJFLA entitlement and your 12 week/12 month FMLA entitlement simultaneously. If you take time for your own disability under FMLA it does not count against the time off you are entitled to under NJFLA for other purposes that are covered under the New Jersey law.
Though leave taken under NJFLA and FMLA is unpaid, you may use your accrued paid vacation time or sick leave for some of your leave. And in some instances, your employer may require that you do so. If your employer is properly notified that this is being used for NJFLA/FMLA, this time is counted against your maximum twelve weeks. Contact our New Jersey employment lawyers to learn more.