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FMLA and FLA Difference

You May Be Entitled To Job Protected Medical Leave

Most New Jersey employees do not realize that they may be entitled to job protected medical leave under both the New Jersey Family Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1 (FLA), and the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. 2601, (FMLA). In fact, we often get calls from employees devasted because they need to take leave to care for a sick family member and think that they have no job-protected medical leave left after having exhausted all available 12 weeks of leave for their own medical condition under the FMLA. Those employees do not realize that they are likely entitled to an additional 12 weeks of leave under our state leave law. New Jersey’s medical leave lawyers at Lenzo & Reis want to ensure that all New Jersey employees understand their rights to leave laws and obtain all of the leave to which they are legally entitled.

What Is The Difference Between The FMLA and FLA?

There are four differences between the FMLA and FLA that warrant discussion.

The first significant difference between the two acts is that it is easier to qualify for leave under the New Jersey FLA than the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While the FMLA only applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee requesting leave, 29 C.F.R. 2611(4)(A), the FLA applies to employers with at least 30 employees even if some of those employees work out-of-state or more than 75 miles away from the requesting employee. N.J.A.C. 4A:6-2. Additionally, to be FMLA-eligible employees must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and worked there at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. 29 C.F.R. 2611(1). In contrast, while FLA-eligibility still requires that employees worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months, they only need to have worked 1,000 hours during the 12 months before their leave. N.J.A.C. 4A:6-3. As a result, more New Jersey employees are covered by the FLA than the FMLA.

The second significant difference between the two acts is that while the New Jersey Family Leave Act is more generous in terms of what employees it covers, it is more restrictive in terms of the leave available to New Jersey workers. That is because the New Jersey Family Leave Act, unlike the FMLA, only provides family leave. N.J.A.C. 4A:6-4; 29 C.F.R. 2612(e). Therefore, New Jersey employees are not entitled to leave for their own serious medical condition under the FLA. It is worth noting here, though, that New Jersey employees who qualify for leave under the FMLA are still legally entitled to take leave for their own serious health condition. In fact, there are circumstances under which employees may be entitled to 12 weeks under the FMLA and another 12 weeks under the FLA for a total of 24 weeks of leave in any given year. To understand how that works, please click here to be redirected to our page describing the interaction between the FMLA and FLA.

The third major difference between the two acts is that an employee eligible for leave under the FLA is entitled to 12 weeks of leave in any given 24 month period whereas employees eligible for FMLA leave are entitled to 12 weeks of leave during a particular 12 month period of time. N.J.A.C. 4A:6-6; 29 C.F.R. 2612.

The fourth noteworthy difference is the means by which intermittent leave must be taken. It is worth noting that intermittent leave refers to leave that is taken in blocks of time for the same leave-qualifying reason. Intermittent leave under the New Jersey Family Leave Act must be taken in minimum intervals of at least one week, N.J.A.C. 6-6:1 whereas intermittent leave under the FMLA may be taken as needed by the employee. 29 C.F.R. 825.203(b).

What If I Am Being Denied Leave Under the FMLA or FLA?

No eligible employees should be denied leave to care for either themselves during a period of illness or a sick relative. Yet understanding your rights under FMLA and FLA and how those two laws interact with one another can be confusing. If you have questions about or need legal representation concerning any of issues involving your right to take medical leave, you should contact the medical leave attorneys at Lenzo & Reis either by telephone at (973) 845-9922 or by clicking here to contact us by e-mail. Our medical leave lawyers have successfully helped hundreds of New Jersey workers understand their leave rights and get the leave to which they were entitled. We are waiting to help you!

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