It is incredibly stressful when you have no choice other than to take time off of work so that you can care for a new child in your family or a sick family member. That stress is often made far worse by the possibility or reality of being retaliated at work because you requested and/or took family leave. New Jersey’s family leave lawyers at Lenzo & Reis want New Jersey employees to know that they may be eligible to take time off from work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or to care for certain close family members under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1, in addition to rights they may have under the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. 2601 (FMLA).What Employees Are Entitled To Take FLA Leave?
To be entitled to family leave under the New Jersey FLA, you must
- work for a private employer who employs 30 or more employees worldwide regardless of where those employees work, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3(f)(4), or
- work for a state or local government, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3(f)(4), and
- have worked for the employer from whom you are requesting leave for at least 12 months during the most recent 12 months of which you worked at least 1,000 hours, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3(e).
You are entitled to take FLA for various different scenarios. Such as for the
- birth and/or adoption of a child,
- placement of a foster child with requesting employee, or
- serious health condition of a family member, which is defined as a spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, any other person related by blood, or any other person with whom the requesting employee can demonstrate he or she has a close affiliation with equivalent to that of a familial relationship.
In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, the New Jersey Family Leave Act was amended to allow eligible employees to take 12 weeks of job-protected leave in the case of a Governor-announced state of emergency or when deemed necessary by the Commissioner of Health or other public health official, an epidemic of a communicable disease, suspected or known exposure to the communicable disease or efforts to prevent the spread of the communicable disease:
- to provide in-home care to a child because of a school closure or closure of childcare facilities resulting from a public official’s order due to the public health emergency or epidemic,
- to care for a family member subject to a public health authority’s declaration, including a mandatory order of quarantine, resulting from an illness caused by or exposure to the communicable disease, and/or
- to care for a family member who has been told that it is recommended that he or she quarantine by either a public health authority or health care provider.
N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3(i)(4).What Is Considered a Serious Health Condition of a Family Member Entitling Me To FLA Leave?
Serious health conditions include injuries, impairments, illnesses, or mental or physical conditions that require
- inpatient care, and/or
- continuing medical treatment or ongoing health care supervision.
Employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave during any 24 month period of time. FLA leave may be taken all at once, intermittently in minimum blocks of one week at a time as medically necessary, and/or on a reduced schedule not to exceed 24 consecutive weeks during which the requesting employee works fewer hours per week although not fewer hours per day unless agreed to by both the employer and employee.Do I have Any Other Rights Under The FLA Other Than My Entitlement To Leave?
Yes, employees on New Jersey Family Leave Act leave are entitled to
- have their group health insurance coverage continued as if they were still working,
- exercise their rights under the FLA without any interference from their employer, and
- be free from discrimination or retaliation because they filed a charge, started a legal proceeding, and/or testified about or were about to testify about any rights available under the FLA.
The New Jersey Family Leave attorneys at Lenzo & Reis understand the importance of taking family leave to care for sick family members or as the result of difficult situations during global pandemics, such as COVID-19. New Jersey employees shouldn’t be forced to choose between their families or their jobs. Our family leave lawyers do not just proudly advise New Jersey employees on their rights under the FLA. We also successfully fight for New Jersey workers to be able to take leave when they need it and to be compensated for their loss of income and emotional distress if they were fired for requesting or taking family leave. Lenzo & Reis’ family leave attorneys care about the stability and wellbeing of our clients and their families.
If you need to understand your rights under the New Jersey Family Leave Act or are being unlawfully denied family leave, contact the New Jersey family leave attorneys of Lenzo & Reis by phone at (973) 845-9922 or e-mail by clicking here.