NJ FMLA: Your Rights for Leave
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (1993) and NJ State law, the New Jersey Family Medical Leave Act have a few things that differ between the laws. Both provide certain employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave, during which time they cannot lose their jobs, for specific family and medical reasons. Both the Federal and the State laws cover employees working for a company employing at least fifty employees for twenty or more weeks in the current or the previous year, OR a governmental agency, OR a school.
Employees of qualifying companies must have been employed with the company for at least one year, and for a total of at least a thousand hours during the last twelve-month period.
If You Qualify for FMLA, What Can You Expect?
Assuming you are a qualified employee working for a covered employer in the State of New Jersey, you can expect to take an unpaid leave of absence from your job for up to twelve weeks:
- to care for your new baby after birth, or your new child as a result of adoption or foster care;
- to care for your spouse, son, daughter, or parent, with a serious health condition, or;
- to care for your own serious health condition that causes you to be unable to perform your job.
In some cases, employers have discretion to pay qualified employees for all or part of a leave of absence under FMLA. And, leave may be taken when and as needed, by the day, or week, or even by the hour;
Since New Jersey recognizes a civil union and extends the benefits of the FMLA to qualified partners in a civil union, you can expect to be granted an unpaid leave of absence from your job to care for your civil union partner or eligible same-sex domestic partner with a serious health condition.
What is Considered a Serious Health Condition?
The definition of a serious health condition under FMLA is subject to medical opinions, but it can be summarized as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves, “a period of incapacity” and:
- Inpatient care at a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility;
- Absence of more than three days from school or work, and continuing treatment by a health care provider;
- Pregnancy or prenatal care;
- Chronic health conditions, such as asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, etc;
- Permanent or long-term condition for which treatment may not be effective, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, a stroke or a terminal illness;
- Multiple treatments requiring recover time, such as physical therapy, chemotherapy or dialysis.
What is Required of You
Your employer may require medical certification to verify your need for medical leave under FMLA. The first certification is your responsibility to obtain. But employers have the right to obtain a second opinion and even a third opinion and pay the costs associated with obtaining additional medical certifications from other health care providers to verify your FMLA request.
Your employer may require advance notice from you, up to thirty days’ notice, stating your intention to take FMLA. If the circumstances are such that you cannot provide notice a month in advance, you’re required to give notice, “as soon as practicable,” which usually means one or two business days. If you miss work and want to take advantage of your FMLA benefits, you need to notify your employer within one or two days after you return to work that your absence is covered under FMLA due to reasons
John J. Zidziunas & Associates will provide you with expert help in your New Jersey Family Medical Leave matters, advising you and representing you in court. Contact us for a 30 minute consultation at no charge, by email or by calling 973-509-8500.
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