Four New Jersey maternity leave laws provide three sets of benefits that work differently for many groups of new parents.

Paid time off replaces a portion of income. Job protections keep some new parents off the unemployment line, while health insurance continuation helps them stay covered when they need it most.

Each of the four relevant regulations has unique rules and qualifying criteria. Therefore, there is no single correct answer to how much you get and how long it lasts.

You must apply the laws to your situation to get a correct assessment for each of your three sets of legal rights.

How Much NJ Maternity Leave Pays

Two laws determine how much maternity leave pay a new parent who works in New Jersey might receive. The weekly benefit amount can range from $170 on up to $881, depending on income range, and eligibility.

For starters, only parents who pay into the system qualify. Therefore, your benefit level could by zero or something completely different if you fall into any of these categories.

Pregnancy Disability

NJ Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) determines the benefit amount available to women during leave due to pregnancy-related health conditions. Fathers are ineligible because they do not experience physical limitations.

  • Medical complications related to pregnancy
  • Four weeks before her due date
  • Recovery from childbirth
  • Postpartum medical problems

The maximum weekly benefit for pregnancy-related disability depends on your income while working. Two figures go into the equation effective July 1, 2020. Pick the smaller of the two numbers.

  1. 85% of base earnings
  2. $881 weekly limit

Baby Bonding

The NJ Family Leave Insurance (FLI)[1] program dictates how much money new parents receive for baby bonding time. In this instance, both mothers and fathers are eligible to enjoy wage replacement benefits while caring for an infant, adopted or foster child.

The weekly benefit calculations for baby bonding time follow the TDI formula. Effective July 1, 2020, you pick the smaller of two figures.

  1. 85% of base income
  2. $881 weekly maximum

How Long NJ Maternity Leave Lasts

You have to address two completely different sets of considerations when determining how long maternity leave lasts for new parents who work in New Jersey.

  1. How many weeks of income replacement benefits (up to 64)
  2. The length of unpaid legal job protections (up to 24)
    1. The right to return to the same job without retaliation
    2. Continuation of healthcare benefits as if working

Paid Time Off

Paid maternity leave benefits in New Jersey can last between 22 and 38 weeks in total – and everything in between because moms have four possible valid reasons to file claims.

Also, the two programs (TDI and FLI) combine to determine how long benefits might continue for each scenario.

  • Before Due Date (TDI)
    • 4: if healthy
    • Up to 26: with complications
  • Childbirth Recovery (TDI)
    • 6: vaginal delivery
    • 8: C-section
  • Baby Bonding (FLI)
    • 12: mothers
    • 12: fathers
  • Postpartum Problems (TDI)
    • 0: if healthy
    • Up to 18: with complications

Typically, the maximum length is 38 weeks because the temporary disability plan stops making claim payments after six months (26 + 12 = 38). In other words, most women dealing with complications before and after birth will not be able to double-dip and extend the benefits further.

However, given the stakes, it does not hurt to try by filing a subsequent claim under a second reason. For example, the state might approve pre-eclampsia (26 weeks max) before delivery, followed by a later birth injury (second set of 26 weeks max).

Women with long-term policies do not have this concern. Their supplemental coverage through private companies takes the risk of running out of benefits off the table.

Self-Employed

NJ parents who are self-employed or independent contractors (1099) do not pay into the TDI and FLI programs. Therefore, they are also ineligible for benefits while on maternity leave.

However, many self-employed mothers are aware of this limitation and purchase private short-term disability insurance before conception. These policies provide partial income replacement benefits during the weeks when mom is unable to work for a covered medical condition.

  • Pregnancy complications disability
    • Up to 26 or more if necessary
  • Recovery from childbirth
    • 6: for vaginal delivery
    • 8: for C-section
  • Postpartum medical complications
    • Additional 26 or more if needed

Fathers

The length of paid paternity leave for NJ fathers is much shorter than for mothers because dads do not experience a disability. Therefore, only FLI applies during selected weeks off from work.

  • 6: before July 1, 2020
  • 12: after July 1, 2020

New fathers can tap into FLI wage benefits for three main reasons.

  1. Care for his sick wife experiencing pregnancy complications before birth
  2. Baby bonding time with a newborn, adopted, or foster child
  3. Care of twins born prematurely or spouse dealing with postpartum problems

Job Protections

Legal job and health insurance protections while on parental leave in New Jersey could last zero, twelve, or twenty-four weeks. The answer for each person depends on eligibility under two related laws, their gender, and experiences.

The two applicable laws, the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the NJ Family Leave Act (NJFLA), have slightly different qualifying criteria and rules.

Zero

NJ parents who work for non-covered employers and those who fail the individual criteria have zero weeks of job and insurance legal protections during maternity leave.

Covered Employer Eligible Employee
NJFLA[2] > 30 employees (effective 7/1/2020)

Government entity of any size

1,000 hours worked in the last 12 months
FMLA[3] > 50 employees working in a 75-mile radius

Public agency

School employees

1,250 hours working in the last 12 months

12 consecutive months with the same employer

Many mothers and fathers must rely on the generosity of their employer or fend for themselves. Hiring an attorney is unlikely to help if you lose your job and access to health insurance coverage during your time off, and you fall into any of these groups.

  • Small business employees
  • Self-employed workers
  • 1099 independent contractors
  • Part-timers who fail to log enough hours
  • People who change jobs mid-year

Twenty-Four

Birth mothers who qualify under both laws (FMLA and NJFLA) can enjoy twenty-four weeks of legal job and health insurance protections while on maternity leave. The regulations have mutually exclusive criteria that allow women to stack two sets of twelve.

  • FMLA allows for 12 for her disability
    • Pregnancy complications
    • Recovery from childbirth
    • Postpartum disorders
  • NJFLA allows an additional 12 because it does not cover an employee’s health condition
    • Baby bonding
    • Care of her sick infant

Twelve

NJ workers can sometimes have twelve weeks of legal job and insurance safeguards during parental leave. The mid-range answer results when the person qualifies under one law or must apply the two concurrently.

  • 30 to 49 employee ranges qualify under NJFLA only
    • Some mid-size businesses
    • Large businesses with smaller regional offices
  • NJFLA and FMLA apply at the same time
    • Fathers taking paternity time off
    • Adoptive and foster parents
    • Families using surrogate mothers

Footnoted Sources:

[1] NJ Family Leave Insurance

[2] NJ Family Leave Act Poster

[3] FMLA Eligibility