Family and Medical Leave Act Provides Protection for New Jersey Workers, but Still Confuses Some

November 7, 2011

Despite being in place for years, the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly referred to as the FMLA, protects employees who take time off for family or medical-related problems. It ensures that employers don't retaliate against employees for taking the time off.

New Jersey Employment Lawyers have seen workers discriminated against and punished for taking time off work, even though state and federal law allow people to take time off from work and still maintain their jobs.
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The federal act allows an employee to take off up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period for these reasons:

  • Birth and care of a child or placement for adoption or foster care
  • Care of an immediate family member
  • Care of the employee's own health condition

Here's a Question and Answer session about the New Jersey Family Leave Act of 1993:

Q: How is the 12-month period calculated under FMLA or NJFLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12-month period:

  • the calendar year;
  • any fixed 12-month "leave year" such as a fiscal year, a year required by State law, or a year starting on the employee's "anniversary" date;
  • the 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first family leave begins; or
  • a "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA or NJFLA leave.

Q: Does workers' compensation leave count against an employee's family or medical leave entitlement?

It can. Family and medical leave and workers' compensation leave can run together, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as family or medical leave.

Q: If an employer fails to tell employees that the leave is FMLA or NJFLA leave, can the employer count the time they have already been off against the 12 weeks of FMLA or NJFLA leave?

In most situations, the employer cannot count leave as NJFLA or FMLA leave retroactively. Remember, the employee must be notified in writing that an absence is being designated as NJFLA or FMLA leave. If the employer was not aware of the reason for the leave, leave may be designated as NJFLA or FMLA leave retroactively only while the leave is in progress or within two business days of the employee's return to work.

Q: Which employees are eligible to take FMLA and NJFLA leave?

Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have worked for at least 1,000 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location with at least 50 employees.

There are additional questions and answers on the State of New Jersey web site regarding FMLA and NJFLA. Discrimination based on aiding one's family or one's own health is unlawful and must be investigated.

If you feel your employer has discriminated against you based on leave for family issues in New York or New Jersey, contact the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997. We are located in East Hanover, N.J. and Midtown Manhattan on Broadway.