NJ Maternity Leave: Everything You Need to Know
NJ maternity leave laws offer both women and men partially paid leave along with job protection. 8 min read
Updated October 12,2020:
NJ Maternity Leave
NJ maternity leave laws offer both women and men partially paid leave along with job protection. The amount and length of maternity leave in NJ can be very different depending on the situation.
New Jersey is one of three states in the US that guarantees women a partially paid maternity leave under the state's Family Leave Insurance program, provided under the NJ Temporary Disability Benefits Law. The laws provide partial paid leave up to 18 weeks though in fewer cases, job protection could continue for a maximum of 24 weeks. New Jersey also offers paid family and medical leave for six to eight weeks depending on if the baby is delivered naturally or by cesarean section
NJ paid maternity leave laws also give parents several ways to supplement their income. The benefit amounts are based on income and the employees' needs before conceiving.
Maternity Leave Assistance
New Jersey has two paid leave programs for mothers and fathers, State Temporary Disability and Paid Family Leave, which can result in huge gaps in income. For this reason employees may request maternity leave loans or Maternity Leave Assistance which includes the following:
- Replacement of 2/3 income (equal to a pay cut of 1/3)
- weekly maximum - $677 in 2017
- A parent whose wages are at or more than $52,800/ year gets the maximum
- Benefits expire 6 weeks after mother recovers from giving birth.
If the person is unsure whether coming back to work, he/she should not borrow money through this program.
State Temporary Disability
The main NJ paid maternity leave law is state temporary disability. Temporary disability benefits related to pregnancy are considered a short-term disability in New Jersey. A short-term disability policy covers health conditions that provide partial wage replacement in case an employee cannot work due to illness or medical issues. Pregnancy is used for short-term disability insurance benefits to help bridge unpaid periods following birth and for recovery and parental leave. To qualify for paid maternity leave, medical proof showing a woman is unable to work due to pregnancy or medical problems is needed.
In a healthy pregnancy, four weeks before delivery, and six weeks after birth (or 8 weeks if a cesarean birth) is when the period of eligibility for disability payments usually begins. The benefit amounts equal two-thirds of the person's gross income (which increases each year). If someone is continuously disabled and has a doctor's note, leave benefits can last up to six months.
If a person is not able to work due to medical complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, or if she has another disability and is physically unable to work, she could get an extension of benefits to cover a portion of her lost wages. A doctor may certify that a person is still disabled if she has specific complications related to pregnancy.
Temporary disability benefits are funded by employer contributions and wage withholding from employee paychecks and give the employee the right to be paid for any time he/ she takes off. Note that NJ's temporary disability program doesn't require an employer to grant time off nor to give back your job when you are ready to return to work.
No claims for temporary disability benefits should be filed before receiving a doctor's note stating the employee is unable to work or before the employee stops working. If an employee files a claim before becoming disabled or stops working, the state may deny the claim.
Paid Family Leave
The second maternity leave law in New Jersey is Paid Family Leave which was introduced in 2009 to amend the state's temporary disability law. It covers the mother for six or eight weeks of paid leave to care for herself and her baby following childbirth. The paid family leave program also gives a partial income replacement for both the mother and father to allow time for bonding with the baby during leave. Since family leave and temporary disability leave are not the same and are separate, a woman may qualify for both FLI and TDI .
A small amount of all NJ employee's paychecks is withheld from those making over a certain amount to pay for FLI benefits, which means these benefits are considered to be fully employee-funded. A person must have in the previous year, been paid at least $8,400 or worked for 20 weeks (the minimum earned must be $168 during those weeks) to qualify for the paid family leave. Employees are eligible to receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage for a maximum of $595. The New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act covers all employees regardless of company size.
Alternatively, if the person's employer pays for the maternity leave, she will not also be able to receive FLI benefits at the same time. The woman may, however, receive FLI benefits concurrently with any private short-term disability payments she receives. If other federal benefits are received (e.g., worker's compensation or unemployment compensation), she will usually be ineligible for FLI benefits as well.
Family leave benefits must be taken before the baby turns one and in sets of 7 sequential days (unless the employer agrees to another arrangement). Also, an employee must give his/ her employer at least 30 days' notice that he/ she will be taking FLI leave. If notification isn't provided, he/ she may lose benefits for 14 days.
The employee may be required to use no more than 2 weeks of PTO (such as vacation) or sick leave at full pay at the same time during the FLI time of leave. There is a 7-calendar day waiting period before an employee can start to receive FLI benefits. If the employer requires that the employee use his/ her full paid time off to count towards his/ her FLI leave, he/ she can apply that paid-time off towards the waiting period.
An employee is permitted to try to take out a private short-term disability insurance policy if they do not qualify for family leave insurance or if the employer does not offer a paid leave policy or short-term disability benefits to employees.
The paid family leave law specifically stipulates that when a mother returns to work, her employer is only required to hold a job for her.
Compensation Under Paid Family Leave and State Temporary Disability
Family leave and temporary disability benefits are calculated in the same way and benefits are based on the average of the employees' weekly pay for the previous eight weeks.
A mother is entitled to approximately 2/3 of this average weekly pay (up to a maximum of $677 per week as of 2017). The amount is approximate because state taxes aren't withheld from benefit payments like on a normal paycheck.
The schedule of maximum payments is updated periodically, so the person should check with the NJ Department of Labor for the latest information.
New Jersey maternity laws don't let an employee collect unemployment while recuperating from the birth of their child. Various states have updated their definitions based on certain events, such as a prevailing family issue. In NJ however, if a person quits their job because of his/her disability, or to take on the role of primary caregiver for an ill relative, he/she may be ineligible to collect unemployment.
Under New Jersey state and federal law, losing coverage of your health insurance as a result of reduced working hours is a life event that qualifies an individual for this type of compensation. An employee can enroll during a certain enrollment period and may be qualified for income-based assistance to help cover the cost of insurance premiums.
If an employee meets FMLA and NJFLA criteria, employers must continue benefits for 12 weeks on the same terms as an active employee.
Maternity Leave of Absence Laws in New Jersey
NJ state maternity leave of absence laws provide job protection varying in eligibility and length requirements. If eligible, an employee can get job protection up to 24 weeks. The most prevailing circumstances are pregnancy complications and delivering an ill baby. In these circumstances, a woman must know the difference between the two laws providing job-protection. To cover all the bases, one law focuses on protecting the job of the mother while she's pregnant and unable to work or has just given birth while the second one protects her job during the time she cares for her infant.
Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives mothers and fathers the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster.
The Federal Family Medical Leave Act is a 12-week leave law that runs concurrently with the state's leave, but it is unpaid. In addition, the federal FMLA only is applicable to employers with 50 plus employees. Under the federal FMLA, eligible employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, and the FMLA allows employees to take their leave intermittently if medically necessary.
New Jersey maternity leave laws and the federal FMLA are especially beneficial together if a mother experiences complications during her pregnancy because the federal law provides job-protected leave of absences during an employee's disability, or when caring for an ill relative and the state maternity leave law can be applied at the same time.
New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA)
The NJ Family Leave Act provides job-protected maternity leave of absence to care for an ill relative or job-protected baby-bonding time. What appears to be a limitation, is actually a benefit because it allows a person to have two 12-week periods of leave back to back. The run of a 12-week leave can happen in scenarios when a pregnant woman cannot work or is disabled (FMLA), and then also takes bonding time with baby (NJFMLA).
A person is eligible for NJFLA if he/she has worked at a company for at least 12 months and clocked a minimum of 1,000 hours. The state family leave can be used for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. Note that employees may take 12 weeks off every two years, instead of each year as the Federal maternity leave act allows. The New Jersey law is the same for paternity leave where a father can stay home to care for his wife or spend time with his newborn.
The New Jersey family leave act is applicable to employers with more than 50 employees anywhere worldwide and gives 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 24-month period. The family leave act doesn't apply to an employee's disability.
Female teachers can sequentially utilize two sets of maternity leave between the two laws (not applicable to male teachers). Teachers are covered by FMLA, no matter the employee amount in the school. The NJ law only applies to teachers employed by schools with more than 49 employees.
The Federal FMLA and the NJ State Family Leave Act both cover state employees.
Family Building Act
NJ maternity leave laws have a benefit that is often overlooked. It is called the NJ Family Building Act which provides coverage for couples who want to build their family. Without the Family Building Act, many new parents would accrue significant debt before facing extended maternity leaves with uncertain job security and partial pay. This act requires coverage for infertility treatments.
What is the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is applicable to all public and private employers and bans discrimination due to pregnancy or conditions related to pregnancy. This law prohibits employers from showing preferential treatment for employees with similar work abilities who are not pregnant. In addition, the law requires reasonable accommodations to be provided, such as assistance with manual labor and bathroom breaks, to women who are pregnant or nursing.
Parents Who Work for the Same Employer
If an employee is married to someone who works for the same company, the employer can limit the total FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both parents. However, any portion of the employee's own 12 weeks of FMLA leave not used for parenting will still be available if needed.
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