The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to eligible and covered employees for the following reasons:

  1. Birth and care of  the employee’s child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee;
  2. Care of an immediate family member (spouse*, child, parent) who has a serious health condition;
  3. Care of the employee’s own serious health condition.

*Because civil unions are recognized in the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Family Leave Act will apply; that is, unpaid leave must also be granted to allow an employee to care for his/her civil union partner or eligible same-sex domestic partner who has a serious health condition.

The employee is entitled to return to his or her position after taking FMLA leave. In most cases, the employer cannot fire the employee while on leave or refuse to permit the employee to return to her/his job. And the employer may not eliminate the employee’s position, unless based on legitimate business reasons.

To be Eligible, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Private Employer must have at least 50 employees (no such limitation for government employers);
  2. Employee must work for at total of  12 months (does not have to be consecutive;
  3. Employee must work at least 1250 hours over the previous 12 months.

Note: The FMLA provides time off from work due to an employee’s disability, while the NJFLA does not. Therefore, it may be possible to use FMLA covered time for disability without reducing NJFLA time in connection with the birth or adoption of a child or the serious illness of a parent, child or spouse.

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