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

Paid parental leave benefits replace a portion of income. Job protections keep some new parents off the unemployment line due to a work absence. Health insurance continuation helps some parents keep coverage when they need it most.

Follow this four-part outline for guidance. Learn how New Jersey maternity leave of absence laws may apply to your unique situation.

  1. Application forms and rules for four income replacement programs
  2. Two regulations providing job and health insurance protections
  3. Laws protecting pregnant women in the workplace
  4. How the safeguards apply to fathers, teachers, and small business employees

New Jersey Paid Maternity Leave Amounts

Does New Jersey have paid maternity leave benefits?  How much money will you get and for how long? Where do I find the application form to file a claim?

Yes, New Jersey is one of a handful of states that offers income replacement benefits. However, the amount and duration are different for each person and circumstance. Several programs may apply to your situation.

Maternity Leave Assistance

Complete an online personal loan request form for financial assistance. The New Jersey paid parental leave programs often result in an income gap for many families.

  • Two-thirds income replacement equates to a one-third pay cut
  • Claimants hitting the weekly maximum suffer a larger income reduction
  • Many families face extra medical bills from mom’s hospitalization

Do not borrow money to fund this gap if you face any uncertainty about returning to work. You will need an income to repay the obligation with interest. Do not make a bad situation worse.

Loan repayment during maternity leave is often tricky. New parents face reduced income coupled with large medical bills. Uncertainty about the length of job protections and access the health insurance adds to worry. Plan carefully.

Disability Maternity Leave

New Jersey state temporary disability benefits (NJTDI) for maternity leave provide partial income replacement. New mothers qualify with a normal childbirth. Approximately 65% of new parents fall into this category when mom and baby are perfectly healthy.

The benefit amount is two-thirds of gross income, up to a hard dollar cap. The maximum weekly benefit is $633 in 2017. We estimate that the weekly maximum will be $645 in 2018.

The state disability benefits last for up to twelve weeks for normal childbirth. They apply during the time that mom is physically unable to work.

  • Four weeks prior to delivery
  • Six weeks for vaginal delivery
  • Eight weeks for C-section birth

File the NJTDI claim electronically here. Login online to complete the medical and employer sections. Paper-based application forms are also available for download.

Family Leave Insurance

The New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (NJFLI) regulation offers a second income benefit. Both mothers and fathers often qualify. The entitlement provides up to six weeks of cash benefits for participating and qualifying women and men.

  • Bonding with a newborn baby in the first year
  • Bonding with an adopted child in the first year of placement
  • Caring for a family member with a serious health condition1

The NJ Family Leave Insurance maximum weekly benefit amount increases modestly every year. The program replaces 2/3 of the person’s average weekly wage up to the maximum benefit amount.

  • Actual 2017 maximum $633
  • Estimated 2018 maximum $645

File the NJFLI claim electronically here. Log in online to complete the application and track the status. Alternatively, new parents can download a paper-based claim form from another section of the same government site.

  • File the FL-1 paperwork for care of a sick family member
  • Complete the FL-2 form if you are receiving temporary disability for pregnancy. Transition over to baby bonding benefits
  • File the FL-3 continued claim certification form for intermittent absences

Unemployment Compensation

Collecting unemployment for maternity leave in New Jersey rarely works. Several rules prevent most people from qualifying for compensation. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

  • Available to work knocks out absences to care for a sick family member (spouse or infant)
  • Able to work disqualifies women disabled due to pregnancy-related condition
  • People who voluntarily quit without a “good cause connected with the work” are ineligible
  • Laid off pregnant women are eligible provided she is able and available to work

Fired/discharged individuals fall into a gray area and represent a large population. Many new parents lose their jobs for willful misconduct due to poor attendance. They either do not qualify for legal job protections or exhaust their time. A simple misconduct disqualification lasts for 7 weeks.2

NJ unemployment law allows a willful misconduct exception for domestic violence. Current law as of 2017 does not extend the exemption further. Other states include the care of a sick family member or an employee’s own disability. Things could change in 2018 or 2019.

Paid Sick Leave

New Jersey does not appear to have a statewide paid sick leave law. The same holds true for federal regulations. New parents who must take time away from work have three options.

  1. Many private employers offer paid sick leave voluntarily. They chose to offer this benefit to attract and retain workers.
  2. Public sector employees earn 15 days paid sick leave annually and can carry over unused time without limit.
  3. As of 2017, thirteen NJ municipalities have passed paid sick leave ordinances. They apply to employers in their jurisdictions. Each requirement has unique variations.3
BloomfieldEast OrangeElizabeth
IrvingtonJersey CityMontclair
MorristownNewarkNew Brunswick
PassaicPattersonPlainfield
Trenton

New Jersey Maternity Leave Job & Insurance Protections

How long do New Jersey maternity leave job and health insurance legal protections last? The answer could be zero, six, twelve, or twenty-four weeks. Each person’s unique circumstances determine whether certain state-based and federal laws apply.

Two regulations often apply in unique ways for women before and after childbirth. Pay careful attention.

NJ Family Leave Act Regulation

The New Jersey Family Leave Act (N.J.S.A. 34:11b-1) regulation offers unpaid job and group health insurance protections. The state-based safeguards last for up to 12 weeks during any 24-month period.

These are the qualifying reasons.

  • Time to bond or care for a newly born or adopted child, within one year of birth or placement
  • The care of a parent, child under 18, spouse, or civil union partner who has a serious health condition4

Federal Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act provides unpaid job and health insurance protections. Only certain workers are eligible. The federal safeguards last for up to 12 weeks during any 12-month period. One or more of the following reasons qualify.

  • Taking care of your newly born infant
  • Placing an adoptive or foster child in your home
  • Providing care to a close family member (such as your parent, child, or spouse) with a significant medical problem

NJFLA vs FMLA

There are several differences between the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These variations can affect the length of unpaid job and health care protections during maternity leave.

Qualifying Reasons – women giving birth engage two mutually exclusive reasons. This means the state and federal laws do not apply concurrently. This may allow mom to stack the two rules together. She could extend her legal protections for up to 24 weeks total.

  • FMLA allows for an employee’s own disability
    • 12 weeks for pregnancy complications before delivery
    • 6 weeks for vaginal birth
    • 8 weeks for C-section
  • NJFLA disallows an employee’s own disability
    • 12 weeks for baby bonding time

Employer Size Criteria – people working in satellite and branch offices are more likely to qualify under the New Jersey rule.

  • FMLA is 50+ within a 75-mile radius
  • NJFLA is 50+ nationwide

Hours Worked Rules – part-time and newly hired employees meet the state eligibility rules more easily.

  • FMLA requires 1,250 hours in the last 12 months
  • NJFLA calls for 1,000 hours in the last 12 months

Span of Time – families needing to take time away from work on a regular basis find that the federal regulation offers better protections.

  • FMLA allows 12 weeks every 12 months
  • NJFLA permits 12 weeks every 24 months

Excluded Parties – higher income earners may have to rely on the federal regulation. The state rule exempts certain highly compensated individuals.

  • FMLA has no income-based exclusions
  • NJFLA exempts the 7 most highly compensated employees and the top 5% of employees by base salary

Baby Bonding Time

Three laws in New Jersey can affect baby bonding leave – for those who qualify. The rules work simply when mom is healthy. However, two regulations work in tandem when mom experiences complications before birth.

  • The NJFLI provides paid baby bonding benefits for both fathers and mothers. It replaces a portion of income for up to six weeks.
  • Both the Federal FMLA and NJFLA provide unpaid baby bonding leave. They offer job and group health insurance protections for up to twelve weeks.
    • FMLA covers family bonding time plus mom’s own disability. Women experiencing complications of pregnancy often exhaust their twelve weeks.
    • NJFLA covers child bonding time but excludes mom’s own disability. This exclusion can actually work to the advantage of new parents when mom exhausts her FMLA coverage. The two rules do not overlap or run concurrently while mom is physically unable to work.

New Jersey Labor Laws during Pregnancy

Can you lose your job in New Jersey during pregnancy? Several workplace laws protect the rights of expectant mothers. However, there are limits.

The greatest risk of job loss comes during an extended pregnancy disability leave.

Pregnancy Disability Leave

New Jersey pregnancy disability leave benefits have two important components. Partial income replacement and legal job and health insurance protections come into play. Oddly, the income benefits last much longer and apply to more people. Many expectant women face job loss when they must stop working before delivery.

  • The New Jersey temporary disability program replaces a portion of mom’s income during a pregnancy disability leave.
    • The entitlement lasts for up to 26 weeks. A pregnant woman must be unable to work for a covered medical reason.
    • Most private workers, state government employees, and select municipal personnel enjoy this benefit.
  • The federal FMLA law protects the mother’s job and access to group health insurance benefits during a pregnancy disability leave. The NJFLA does not.
    • The legal safeguards last for up to 12 weeks. Mom will need 6 to 8 weeks to recover from childbirth. This means only 7 weeks remain for an extended absence before delivery.
    • Many women do not qualify for FMLA. They may work for a non-covered employer, or they may be ineligible because of the hours worked criteria. They have 0 weeks.

Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act

The New Jersey Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA) adds “pregnancy” to the protected list of classes. It applies under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. § 10:5-12(s) LAD).    The language is stronger than what its federal counterpart states, and applies to more employers.

  • The PWFA prohibits an employer from discriminating explicitly based on pregnancy. The act further prohibits employers from refusing to hire employees based on pregnancy. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations regardless of whether they have a LAD disability. It does not matter whether the requested accommodations are necessary.
  • The PWFA applies to all private employers regardless of size. Federal government employees are exempt.5

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal regulation. It provides similar legal protections. PDA is a workplace law that protects expectant women’s rights while looking for a job, and when actively employed. It contains specific requirements regarding work reassignments, modified schedules, breastfeeding, and health insurance.

  • Employer groups of 15 or more must fulfill the requirements
  • Federal government agencies must comply with the rules

New Jersey Parental Leave Act Eligibility

Who qualifies for New Jersey parental leave job protections and income replacement benefits? This is a very important question, as the benefits vary widely for different groups of people.

Explore the unique outcomes for fathers, schoolteachers, and small business with less than 50 employees.

Paternity Leave

New Jersey paternity leave laws for fathers are some of the most generous in the country. Men taking time from work often have access to partial income replacement benefits. New dads sometimes enjoy the unpaid job and health insurance protections.

  • Most new fathers qualify to take paid baby bonding leave for 6 weeks
    • NJFLI covers most private employers
    • State government agencies are included
    • Many municipalities voluntarily participate
  • Fewer fathers enjoy 12 weeks of unpaid job and insurance protections during paternity leave
    • FMLA has employee size and hours worked criteria
    • NJFLA has looser qualifications with exceptions for highly compensated employees

Public School Teachers

New Jersey maternity leave for teachers and school administrators is inconsistent. The rules vary at private versus public schools. In addition, each public school district has unique offerings.

Private school teachers enjoy the same maternity leave rights as most workers.

  • Partial income replacement via TDI and FLI is mandatory
  • Job and health insurance legal protections apply if the private school employs 50 or more individuals

Public school teachers and administrators are municipal employees. New Jersey maternity leave law exempts municipalities from participating in the TDI and FLI programs. Each municipality can voluntarily choose to participate.6

  • Public school teachers in towns that voluntarily participate enjoy the full range of income benefits.
  • Public school teachers in towns that do not voluntarily participate have other options. For example, NJEA offers multiple disability plans to members with 14-day and 60-day elimination periods. However, you must enroll prior to conception to qualify.

Public school employees commonly qualify under the two job and healthcare protection laws. Most municipalities and/or school districts have more than 50 employees.

Under 50 Employees

New Jersey maternity leave for small businesses with less than 50 employees pays well. However, small business employees face the greatest job loss risks. Many of the legal job and health insurance protections have employee size criteria.

Legal RequirementEmployee Size
NJTDIAll
NJFLIAll
NJFLA50 + Nationwide
FMLA50 + in 75 miles
NJPWFAAll
PDA15 +

Sources:

  1. Family Leave Insurance
  2. Unemployment Compensation
  3. Sick Leave in Municipalities
  4. Family Leave Act
  5. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  6. Municipal Employees
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