New Jersey Family Leave Act and The Family Medical Leave Act:
What every employer and employee needs to know
By Deena Rosendahl, Esq.
Employers and Employees alike often confuse the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“FLA”) and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Although neither law can be summarized in a single page, below is a bullet point break down of the key provisions and distinctions of each law and how they work together (and don’t!).
- Employer Eligibility: The FLA and FMLA apply to public and private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees. However, under the FMLA those 50 employees must be located within a 75 mile radius of one another. (Employers under the state leave law can have their employees working anywhere, even out of state. So long as the employer is in NJ and employs 50 or more employees, the employer must offer FLA)
- Employee Eligibility: An FLA eligible employee must have worked 1,000 hours or more during the 12 months preceding the leave. An FMLA eligible employee must have worked 1250 hours or more. (Employees under the state leave law become eligible for a leave of absence sooner.)
- Amount of Leave Time: Under the FLA, an eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave time during a 24 month period of time. Under FMLA, an employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave time during a 12 month period of time. (An FMLA employee’s bank of time replenishes after 12 months, while under FLA, an employee has the same 12 weeks of time off but it must last longer!)
- Permitted Leave of Absence: Under FLA, an employee may take time off from work to care for a newly born or adopted child or to care for a parent, child under 18, spouse or civil union partner who has a serious health condition. Under the FMLA, an employee may take time off from work to care for a newly born or adopted child, to care for a parent, child under 18, spouse or civil union partner who has a serious health condition, or for their own serious health condition. (An employee cannot take FLA for their own illness; rather the leave must be for the care of another).
- Pay during a leave of absence: Under both laws, the leave of absence is unpaid. However, employee’s may be eligible for pay under other laws or policies such as New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits law, New Jersey Family Leave Insurance Law, the Paid Family Leave Act or by company policy (FLA and FMLA provide eligible employees with time off from work and job security during the leave time, but not pay! The laws are “leave” entitlements, not “pay” entitlements.)
- A leave of absence under both laws: An employee may be eligible for a leave of absence under both laws (e.g.: a leave of absence to care for a sick family member is available under both laws). In that instance, the employee will only be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave time in a 12 month period of time. (No leave stacking. An employee cannot use 12 weeks under FLA to care for a sick parent, and then add another 12 weeks under FMLA to continue to care for their sick parent).
Both laws have notice provisions, proof of eligibility requirements, maintenance of benefits during a leave of absence requirements as well as exceptions to providing a leave of absence. Each leave of absence sought must be evaluated based on the individual facts surrounding the employee’s employment and need for a leave of absence. For help determining your eligibility and obligations under both laws, please contact Deena B. Rosendahl, Esq. at (201) 947-8855 or Drosendahl@Northjerseyattorneys.com