- Of Counsel
In general, the FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:
A new law enacted on February 19, 2019 has created some significant differences between the FMLA and the NJFLA. While it currently applies to employers of 50 or more employees, as of June 30, 2019 it will apply to employers with 30 or more employees. In addition, the NJFLA now entitles employees to take leave for:
Relatedly, the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (NJ SAFE Act) also requires employers to provide employees with up to 20 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the care of the employee or a family member (same definition as under the NJFLA) in connection with a domestic violence or sexually violent offense. Reasons for time off can include not only medical care, but also, for example: psychological counseling, obtaining services from a victims’ service organization, temporarily or permanently relocating, obtaining legal assistance, or participating in court proceedings.
Although the federal and state leave laws are similar in some respects, there are significant differences. New Jersey employers must comply with the requirements of both laws.
The New Jersey Family Leave Insurance program currently provides six weeks of wage reimbursement (at a rate of 2/3 of a claimant’s average weekly wages, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $650 for the year 2019), for employees who take leave to:
The payments that beneficiaries of this law receive are completely funded by payroll deductions from employee wages, and are not employer-funded. Benefits are administered by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance.
The benefits under this program will increase on July 1, 2020 to 12 weeks of wage replacement, calculated at 85% of a claimant’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of 70% of the statewide average weekly wage.
Unlike the FMLA and NJFLA, there is no minimum number of employees for an employer to be covered. Therefore, some employees who are not eligible for unpaid leave under the FMLA and NJFLA may still be eligible for benefits under the Family Leave Insurance program.
While employers used to be able to require employees to use paid sick or vacation time to reduce their Family Leave Insurance benefit, the new law enacted on February 19, 2019 has changed that policy. Now, employees can take paid time off under their employer’s policies in addition to claiming Family Leave Insurance benefits.
Under the FMLA and NJFLA, employees who take leave are entitled to return to their job, or a reasonably equivalent job, at the end of the twelve weeks. The FMLA and NJFLA job protections do not extend beyond twelve weeks, even when the employer approves longer leave.
Even though employee rights to reinstatement are limited to 12 weeks, both state and federal law prohibit discharging or otherwise retaliating against an employee because he or she has claimed leave and/or benefits.
Absent a contract, all employment in New Jersey is at-will. At-will employees may be discharged for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all. However, an employer may not terminate someone’s employment because of the person’s race, gender, or other protected characteristic, nor in retaliation for lodging complaints (such as discrimination or harassment) or claiming leave or other benefits.
If there is a contract with an employee, the at-will doctrine may not apply. Whether or not there is a contract changing the employee’s at-will status is a sticky issue in New Jersey. A contract for employment may arise from a company policy, a handbook, past practices, or from a verbal promise made by the employer directly to the employee. If an employer takes action inconsistent with its own promises or policies, it could give rise to liability for breach of contract.
On January 1, 2024, reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act ("Act"), went into effect. All businesses subject to the Act will have to report specific information on the company and certain individuals that own and/or control the company. Mason, Griffin & Pierson is happy to guide you through this reporting process and answer any questions that you may have. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like our assistance.
Congratulations to Sharon A. Dragan for receiving the Michael A. Pane Ethics In Government Award. The award was presented by the NJILGA at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities November convention. The Michael A. Pane Ethics In Government Award honors a municipal professional who exemplifies the highest standards of ethics and whose work has significantly enhanced the integrity of local government. November 2023 The Michael Pane Award, established by the Pane Family and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, is given in honor of Michael A. Pane, Sr., who was the long-time editor of the Municipal Law Review, president and trustee of the New Jersey Institute of Municipal Attorneys, counsel to the New Jersey Association of Municipal Clerks, counsel to the League of Municipalities and author of the New Jersey Practice Series, Local Government Law volumes.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey appointed Elizabeth Zuckerman to serve on the District Ethics Committee for District VII (DEC VII) for a three-year term. The district includes Mercer County. August 23, 2023
We are pleased to announce the election of Paul M. Bishop to the Board of Directors, Mason, Griffin & Pierson, PC. Paul, one of the firm’s senior litigators, practices business, commercial, and general litigation, and represents clients in complex disputes throughout New Jersey’s state and federal courts. July 2023