What Are My Rights Under the FMLA?March 1, 2023
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave for the birth of a child, serious illness, and certain other qualifying conditions without losing employment. In New Jersey, employees are also granted additional rights under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA).
Under the FMLA, one or both parents take time off from work for up to a 12 weeks within a 12-month period while maintaining job protection. Leave may be taken all at once or intermittently, and can be taken for:
- Pregnancy, during, and after the birth.
- An employee’s own serious health condition.
- Providing care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition.
- Bonding and caring for a newly adopted child or recently placed foster child.
- Managing certain qualifying conditions due to a family member’s military service.
The FMLA also provides leave to care for a family member who sustained a serious injury or illness during active-duty military service. Known as military caregiver leave, employees can request up to 26 weeks of leave during a 12-month period to provide care to an active duty servicemember of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves.
Caregiver leave is based on a per-injury, per-servicemember basis, and the servicemember must be receiving or recuperating from medical treatment or therapy or is in outpatient or has temporary disability status.
In order for workers to receive FMLA benefits, certain requirements must be met. All public sector employers and employees are automatically covered. Private sector employers, however, must meet certain requirements in order to offer FMLA coverage to employees:
- The employer has at least 50 active employees.
- The employee must have worked at least 12 months prior to requesting FMLA leave.
- During the previous 12 months, the employee must have accrued at least 1,250 work hours.
- The employee must reside within a 75-mile radius from their place of employment.
Under the NJFLA, employees may request leave for up to 12 weeks within a 24-month period. Leave may be taken all at once or intermittently in order to:
- Care for a newborn child within one year of birth.
- Bond and care for a newly adopted child or recently placed foster child.
- Provide care for a family member with a serious health condition, including parents-in-law and civil union partners.
One significant difference between the two is the NJFLA does not provide leave for an employee’s own health condition, though the employee may be eligible to request additional leave through the FMLA.
Eligible workers must be employed with a state or local government agency or private employer that meets the following requirements:
- The private employer must have at least 30 employees or is a government entity of any size.
- The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,000 hours during the previous 12-month period.
- The leave of absence is a qualifying condition.
Whether it is FMLA or NJFLA leave, the employer may require certified confirmation from a health care provider as proof of the request’s legitimacy. Employees must request leave within a reasonable time period, preferably with 30 days advance notice except in emergency circumstances.
New Jersey permits the use of FMLA and NJFLA in tandem, entitling employees to the protection of all applicable laws. When combined under certain circumstances, the employee may be eligible for up to 24 weeks of unpaid leave. Upon returning to work, the employer is required to allow the employee to resume the same position or a job with similar duties and salary. Failure to do so is a violation of the employee’s rights.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients Requesting FMLA or NJFLA Leave
If you or a family member are experiencing a serious health condition and want to learn more about your rights, our experienced Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are available. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.