New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act ("NJFLA") is a New Jersey employment law that protects covered employees who need time off from work for a family leave.What Employees are Covered by the NJFLA?
The NJFLA applies to employers that have at least 30 employees. However, the 30 employees do not have to work in New Jersey. It protects most employees in New Jersey who have (1) worked for a covered employer for at least a year, and (2) worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during the previous 12 months.What Types of Leaves Are Permitted Under the NJFLA?
The NJFLA covers leaves to:
- Care for a newborn or newly adopted child within the first year after the birth or adoption; and
- Care for an immediate family member due to a serious health problem.
Immediate family is defined broadly to include any other blood relative, and anyone else who the employee has a "close association" that is "equivalent of a family relationship." This includes the employee's spouse, civil union partner, domestic partner, child, foster child, parent, parent-in-law, step-parent, step-child, foster parent, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.
Unlike the federal Family & Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), the NJFLA does not cover medical leaves for an employee's own serious health condition.How Does an Employee Request a NJFLA Leave?
Generally, under this employment statute in New Jersey, employees have to give their employer at least 30 days' advance notice before they can take a protected family leave. However, when the leave is for an emergency or providing 30 days' notice is otherwise impossible, the employee only has to give as much notice as is possible under the circumstances.
Eligible employees do not have to mention the FLA by name to be eligible for a family leave. Rather, to be protected by this New Jersey employment law they merely have to give the employer enough information that the employer should understand that the leave might be covered by the FLA.
To the extent appropriate, employers have the right to ask an employee for additional information so it can determine whether the leave is covered by the FLA. The employer also can require the employee to have a health care provider complete a certification form to allow the employer to confirm that the leave is covered by the FLA.How Much Time Can an Employee Take Off Under the FLA?
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of family leave during a 24-month period.Are Employees Entitled to be Paid During FLA Leaves?
Although some companies provide paid family leaves, the FLA does not require employers to pay employees during a family leave. Employees may be entitled to receive insurance benefits pursuant to the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Insurance Law, or to use sick leave pursuant to the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law or a company policy.
Generally, when an employee takes a leave pursuant to the FLA, he or she is entitled to return to his or her job, or an equivalent one, when the leave is over.What Damages are Recoverable Under the FLA?
If an employer violates the FLA by denying an employee a leave or failing to reinstate an employee at the end of a leave, the employee can recover his or her economic damages (lost salary and benefits), out-of-pocket losses, and damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, as well as their legal fees, among other potential remedies.What is the Deadline to File a Claim under the FLA?
The FLA is a New Jersey employment statute that has a 2-year statute of limitations. In other words, you must file a claim under it within 2 years of the violation of law.