New Jersey Family Leave Act
Do you have a family member who is suffering from a serious health condition and you need to take time off from work in order to provide him or her the care the need and deserve? Are you a new mother or father who wishes to take a leave from work in order to bond with your newborn baby or to adopt a child. If you are in need for a family leave absence for a qualifying family leave reason, you may be eligible for a protected leave of absence under the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
The New Jersey Family Leave Act requires employers of at least 30 employees to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of leave from work in a 24 month period. The law requires the employer to continue to employment benefits during the protected leave, such as group life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, annual leave, pensions or other similar benefits. The New Jersey Family Leave Act prohibits employers from interfering or retaliating against an employee for exercising their New Jersey Family Leave Act rights. Employers who violate the rights of their employees under the law can be subjected to significant penalties, including compensatory damages, emotional distress damages and punitive damages.
A New Jersey employee is eligible for New Jersey Family Leave Act rights if the following conditions are met:
- The employee has worked for their employer for one year and at least 1,000 hours during the last year immediately the preceding the leave.
- The employer is a public employer or a private employer who has 30 or more employees anywhere worldwide working for at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year.
- The employee’s salary is not among the highest 5% of all employees and their absence for work would have a substantial negative effect on the employers business or that the employee is one of the seven most highly paid employee of the employer.
An employee who requests New Jersey Family Leave Act must provide their employer advanced or reasonable notice of their need for leave. An employ must provide 30 days notice for leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. An employee must provide 15 days notice for the leave to care for the immediate family member. In either case, an exception arises if there is an emergency, which the law then requires that reasonable notice be given by the employee to the employer. An employee may require that the employee provides a certification from a medical provider to support the need for leave.Circumstances of New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act allows up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid time off in order to:
Care for a newly born or adopted or foster child, as long as the leave begins within one year of the date the child is born or placed with the employee; or
Care for a family member who has a serious health condition in-patient care, continuing medical treatment or in need of medical supervision. The New Jersey Family Leave Act considers a family member to include a child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, or one partner in a civil union couple, or any other individual related by blood to the employee, and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.
Care for a family member in the event of a declared state of emergency because of an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease. This includes caring for a family member who has been recommended by a health care provider to self-quarantine or to care for a child because of a school closure.
The term “care” is defined as including but not being limited to,
Physical care, emotional support, visitation assistance in treatment, transportation, arranging for a change in care, assistance with essential daily living matters and personal attendant services.Amount of New Jersey Family Leave
The twelve (12) weeks (within a 24 year month period) of protected leave can be used intermittently, in days, weeks or hours, or consecutively to eligible employees. Leave for the birth or adoption of a child may begin at any time within one year of the date of the birth or placement of the child. The New Jersey Family Leave Act requires that employers maintain the employee’s group health insurance policy and return the employee to the same or equivalent position that they had prior to going out on the protected leave.
Common Violations of the New Jersey Family Leave Act.
The New Jersey Family Leave Act is described as being one of the farthest-reaching family leave laws in the entire country. Employer can violate the law in different ways.
One common violation of the law is when employers do not provide the new parents the right to take leave to bond with a new born or adopt a child. The law protects women from being retaliated because they had a baby and needed to take family leave. That goes to the same to men who make the decision to take family to bond with his newborn. Another common violation is when employers use a protected leave of absence against an employee in taking an adverse employment action. For example, an employer using a protected absence as an infraction to an attendance policy is likely a violation of the law.
Some employers violate the New Jersey Family Leave because they do not understand their obligations under the law. Others simply do not care to know their legal obligations or their rights of their employees. We can protect your rights to take a much-needed leave of absence from work without penalty or assist you in determining whether the denial of your request of leave or your termination of employment is unlawful.
If you have questions about your New Jersey Family Leave Act rights, please contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced family leave act attorney.