New Jersey Family Leave Act Eligibility Requirements
The NJ Family Leave Act offers added protections to workers in the state.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act protects eligible employees who work for employers that are covered under the act. In addition, some states, including New Jersey, have their own similar leave laws. The NJ Family Leave Act offers added protections to workers in the state. Eligibility for leave under both the federal and state Family Leave Act are determined at the time that the leave is to start. In general, employees who work for covered employers might be eligible to take leave under the NJ Family Leave Act if he or she has been employed for at least 12 months by his or her employer. He or she must also have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours for the employer during that 12-month period for eligibility purposes.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off from work during any 12-month period. Under the state Family Leave Act, workers may take up to 12 weeks of leave during any 24-month period. Both the federal and state laws provide job reinstatement privileges to most workers. This means that employers must reinstate the employees to the same jobs or positions that are equivalent at the end of the leave periods.
NJFLA eligibility requirements and who is covered
Coverage under New Jersey’s state leave law is not available to all employees. In order to be eligible, workers must meet the following criteria:
- Worked for the same employer for 12 months
- Worked at least 1,000 hours during the 12 months that preceded the leave’s start date
- Work for a company that has at least 50 employees
The state’s law requires that workers have worked fewer hours than the federal law requires. Under the federal FMLA, workers must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months. The state’s law is also more comprehensive regarding covered employers. Under federal law, covered employers must have at least 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius. New Jersey’s law does not have the radius requirement.
The state’s family leave law is meant to help people to balance their careers and their families’ medical or personal needs without worrying about their jobs. Employees are able to request leave under the state’s family leave law in order to get ready for a new child’s birth, to bond with a new child, to complete the necessary tasks for adoption or foster care placement, or to care for a spouse, child, parent or partner who is suffering from a serious health condition. The state’s law does not allow people to take leave to care for their own serious health conditions, but eligible employees may take leave to do so under the FMLA if their employers are also covered by that law.
Paid family leave
New Jersey also has the Paid Family Leave Act, which gives eligible employees up to six weeks of paid time off from work in order to care for their newborn children or newly adopted children within 12 months of when they are placed in the employees’ homes. People may also take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a family member who is suffering from a serious health condition. Under the act, employees are paid 2/3 of their salaries with the total amount payable to be capped at $524 per week. Eligible workers must have earned at least $142 per week for 20 weeks in a row or at least $7,250 in the preceding 52 weeks. The only eligible employees for paid leave under the act are parents, step-parents, adoptive parents and foster parents for taking leave to care for new children. For employees who wish to take leave to care for a family member, the family member must be the child, parent, spouse or partner of the employee.
For situations in which an employee’s reason for requesting leave qualifies under both the federal and state law, the employer must follow the law that offers the most benefit to the employee. If a worker takes leave under the federal FMLA for his or her own serious health condition, he or she may still take 12 weeks worth of leave under the state law for a different reason since the state’s law doesn’t protect workers who take leave to care for themselves. People who have questions about the varying overlapping leave laws in New Jersey might want to consult with the employment law attorneys at Swartz Swidler.