The New Jersey Family Leave Act regulation (NJFLA) is one of four state level maternity leave regulations that apply to workers. The law, when combined with the Federal act (FMLA), may provide up to 24 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave.

The regulation works best for women who need to take an extended leave prior to delivery because of high-risk pregnancy, or complications.

Look more closely at how this works in three segments.

  1. Benefits for pregnancy
  2. Eligibility criteria
  3. Versus FMLA

New Jersey Family Leave Act Benefits

The NJ Family Leave Act benefits provide up to twelve weeks of job-protected leave every twenty-four months. The benefits become most apparent when women experience complications of pregnancy and need to stop working prior to delivery. In most other scenarios, the benefits are far less apparent as the federal regulation works in similar ways and covers a similar population.

This regulation works in concert with three other NJ laws regarding maternity leave that provide job protections and income replacement.

Pregnancy Complications

The New Jersey Family Leave Act regulations do not provide job protection benefits for an employee’s own disability. Twenty-five percent of pregnancies experience one or more complications that may be considered a serious medical condition and result in a disabling condition.

New Jersey FLA does not provide job protection benefits during a female employee’s bed rest disability. However, the state temporary disability program may provide income replacement during the time mom is unable to work. The payments are limited. Women concerned about the level of income support during pregnancy should purchase private short-term disability for pregnancy prior to conception.

The prospective father may be able to utilize the job-protected leave to care for his spouse who is considered seriously ill.

While this guideline appears overly harsh on the surface, it works to the family’s benefit more often than not. The federal counterpart covers very similar populations, but with one important distinction: an employee’s own disability qualifies. Under this scenario, a female employee may be entitled to 12 weeks under FMLA, and can take advantage of this during the time prior to delivery.

Maternity Leave Baby Bonding Time

Under the scenario noted above mom may utilize some of her three months of FMLA time prior to her delivery. After recovering from childbirth, she is no longer considered disabled. The NJ Family Leave Act then allows her to then take a subsequent leave to care for her infant at home and bond with her baby.

The NJ Paid Family Leave program would provide six weeks of partial income replacement while mom bonds with her baby. The same benefit is also available to fathers.

New Jersey Family Leave Act Eligibility

The New Jersey FLA has eligibility guidelines that cover only a minority of people in the state. There are three common places to find holes: only workers are eligible, hours worked, and employer size criteria.

Notice the law applies to workers, but not residents. The Garden State provides extensive bus and rail systems for commuters to leave the state to work. These statutes do not cover residents, who commute across the Hudson and Delaware rivers to work in other states.  The neighboring states do not have similar family leave laws.

Eligibility criteria also apply based upon hours worked, and employer size. As you can see, there are only minor variations between NJ Family Leave Act eligibility criteria compared to the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

NJ Family Leave versus FMLA

When comparing the New Jersey Family Leave Act regulations versus FMLA two things should jump out:

  1. The eligibility criteria are very close
  2. The primary difference relates to covering an employee’s own disability

Women experiencing complications of pregnancy provide the clearest need and most common application for use of both regulations for extended job-protected time.

Criteria New Jersey FLA Federal FMLA
Employer 50 + employees nationwide
working during the previous or current year
50 + workers within
75-mile radius of worksite
Reasons Employee disability not covered Employee disability allowed
Hours Worked 1,000 hours in last 12 months 1,250 hours in last 12 months
Amount of Time 12 weeks in 24 months 12 weeks in 12 months
Exceptions 7 most highly compensated employees exempt
Top 5% of employees by base salary are exempt

Employees qualifying under both the NJ and Federal laws must take the leave concurrently. In this scenario, the employee is entitled to only 12-weeks of job protection during any 12-month period.