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Job protection for workers taking leave in NJ

Job protection laws can be very confusing and the graphics here and further below, may be helpful in understanding how job protection laws such as the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the NJ Family Leave Act (NJFLA) interact with NJ's paid leave programs --  Family Leave INSURANCE and Temporary Disability INSURANCE programs. 

Again, two laws cover workers' right to job protection while taking leave in New Jersey --  the federal FMLA and the state NJFLA. The NJ Division on Civil Rights (DCR) is responsible for enforcing the NJFLA and you can find more information on their website at www.njcivilrights.gov and check out their flyer below and linked here. If you believe that you have been unlawfully denied NJFLA leave or retaliated against because you exercised or attempted to exercise the right to take leave, please call DCR at (973) 648-2700 or (609) 292-4605. A complaint must be filed with DCR within 180 days of the denial of leave or other adverse employment action.

How does the NJFLA relate to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act? Like the NJFLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also provides time off from work in connection with the birth or placement for adoption or foster care of a child, or the serious illness of a parent, child or spouse. When an employee takes a leave for a purpose covered by both the FMLA and the NJFLA, the leave simultaneously counts against the employee’s entitlement under both laws.

Both the NJFLA and the FMLA provide leave in certain circumstances where the other does not. For example, the FMLA provides time off from work due to an employee’s own illness or disability, while the NJFLA does not. Thus, even though an employee has exhausted all of his or her leave under the federal FMLA due to his or her own disability, the employee may still be entitled to time off under the NJFLA to bond with or care for a newborn, or in connection with the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or to care for a family member or someone who is the equivalent of family with a serious illness. Similarly, the NJFLA provides time off to care for a person who is “equivalent” to family, while the FMLA does not. So an employee who exhausts his NJFLA leave in that circumstance may still be entitled to FMLA leave.

In addition, the FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, rather than a 24-month period as provided in the NJFLA. 

Starting July 1, 2019, the NJFLA eligibility includes workers at businesses with 30 or more employees while the FMLA still only covers workers at businesses with 50 or more employees. 

There are also new anti-retaliation protections for workers taking their Family Leave Insurance (FLI) and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits. The TDI/FLI law now says the following:

"An employer shall not discharge, harass, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respoect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis that the employee requested or took any temporary disability benefits or family temporary disabiltiy leave benefits."

In addition, if an employer retaliates against an employee for requesting or taking family leave an employee may take civil action.

In New Jersey there are two programs that provide wage replacement when taking leave from work for certain qualifying reasons and two programs that may provide job protection when taking leave from work for certain qualifying reasons.  See the general graphic "outline" of these laws and programs below: