- Of Counsel
Both the FMLA and the NJFLA require employers with fifty or more employees to provide employees with twelve weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical leave. The FMLA allows leave for:
The NJFLA allows leave for:
Although the laws are similar in many respects, there are some significant differences. New Jersey employers must comply with the requirements of both laws.
The New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act provides six weeks of temporary disability benefits for employees taking leave to care for:
Unlike the FMLA and NJFLA, there is no minimum number of employees for an employer to be covered. Similar to the FMLA and NJFLA, an employer may permit or require the employee to take up to two weeks of available paid sick or vacation pay. The employer is allowed to reduce the disability payment period by the amount of paid leave provided. Substituted vacation and sick pay and the disability payment period run concurrently with the twelve weeks received under the FMLA and NJFLA.
Employees who take family or medical 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.
Absent a contract, all employment in New Jersey is at-will. At-will employees may be terminated for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all. Termination may not be due to race, gender, or other prohibited basis. However, if there is a contract with an employee, the at-will doctrine does 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.
Family and Medical Leave job protection is strictly limited to twelve weeks. The FMLA and NJFLA may be not be extended by employer agreement.
Statements and policies in contradiction of the employer’s handbook can create contract rights in favor of employees and override a statement in the employee handbook that employment is at-will. In those cases, employers may be held liable if they take action inconsistent with those promises or policies. This may not seem like earthshattering news, but employers beware. If the employer arguably creates a policy (formally or informally), deviation from that policy can create liability on the employer’s part for breach of contract.
Sharon A. Dragan has been named Director and Shareholder with Mason, Griffin & Pierson. Sharon received a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law where she served as Bureau Editor for the Seton Hall Legislative Bureau and is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She practices in the areas of local government law, zoning and land use law, real estate law, and estate law. Sharon is Attorney for the Township of Readington, Attorney for Alexandria Township, Attorney for Delaware Township and Attorney for Special Open Space Counsel of West Amwell Township. In her continued service to the legal profession, Sharon served on the District XIII Ethics Committee for several years, the committee that acts as the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in discharging the Court's constitutional responsibility to supervise and discipline New Jersey attorneys. Sharon is a Trustee of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, a professional organization with the purpose of promoting education and professionalism among local government attorneys. She is a member of the Hunterdon County, New Jersey State and Pennsylvania State Bar Associations.
Mason, Griffin & Pierson continues its support of youth basketball programs in the community. For more information on the Dillon Youth Basketball League go to the Princeton Recreation Department at www.leaguelineup.com
For information on the Montgomery Basketball Association go to www.montgomerybasketball.com
In May of this year, New Jersey joined the growing number of states to enact paid sick leave laws. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act is currently in effect and below you will find certain information that is important for all New Jersey employers to understand.
Who Does it Affect?
The Act applies to New Jersey employers of all sizes, including businesses that are based elsewhere but have employees located in New Jersey. While several New Jersey municipalities already had paid sick leave ordinances, this new state law preempts them, meaning they no longer apply and employers throughout the state are now subject to one consistent set of requirements.
The Act does not apply to a few narrow categories of employees: (1) construction industry employees working under collective bargaining agreements; (2) per diem health care employees; or (3) public employees who are already provided with sick leave with full pay pursuant to any other state law, rule, or regulation.
Mason, Griffin & Pierson is pleased to sponsor Montgomery Township Education Foundation. The Foundation's fundraiser takes place on the evening of February 23 at Cherry Valley Country Club in Skillman, New Jersey. The Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization set up to support strategic programs for the benefit of the Montgomery Township public school children.
For more information go to one.bidpal.net/mtefcomedynight