Federal and state law grant employees certain protected rights. One of the major federal laws doing such is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). New Jersey also has a state-level counterpart to the FMLA known as the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). Employees should be aware of the protections available under these laws.
Protections Under the FMLA and NJFLA
Employers with at least 50 employees for a minimum of 20 weeks in the current year or previous year are subject to FMLA standards. To be covered by FMLA, an employee must have worked for the company for a minimum of one year, worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous year, and they work at a location where there are at least 50 employees of the company within a 75-mile radius.
Under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave and, when the leave is over, have the right to be reinstated in their position. Qualifying reasons for FMLA leave include:
- Recovering from a serious health condition
- Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
- Bonding with a new child
- Preparing for a family member’s military service
- Caring for a family member who has been seriously injured during active duty in the military
The 12 weeks of FMLA leave may be taken within a 12-month period. It is made available every 12 months to employees who continue to meet eligibility requirements. While on FMLA leave, employees are entitled to continued health insurance coverage at the same rate they pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed or required to use paid leave they have accrued during their FMLA leave.
New Jersey residents also enjoy the protections provided by the NJFLA. When both FMLA and NJFLA apply, an employee is allowed to use the provisions most beneficial to them and their circumstances. For purposes of the New Jersey family leave law, employers with at least 50 employees must allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave within a 24-month period. Qualifying reasons to take such leave include caring for a newborn child or a newly adopted child. Alternatively, this leave can be taken to care for a family member suffering from a serious health condition. To be eligible for New Jersey family leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least one year and at least 1,000 hours within the last 12 months.
New Jersey also allows leave for employees to take time off if they, or a family member, have been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. For this reason, employees are permitted to take 20 days of leave within a 12-month period. Employers are obligated to provide this type of leave if they have at least 25 employees.
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