If you're a pregnant New Jersey employee and want to know what your maternity leave, pregnancy, and parental leave rights are, you may be confused about how much maternity leave you can take in New Jersey. However, you're actually luckier than most American women who are not protected with pay under maternity leave laws and only receive unpaid family leave under a federal law called FMLA.
You live in one of the three states in the United States that guarantee women a partially paid maternity leave under the state's Family Leave Insurance program, which is provided under New Jersey's Temporary Disability Benefits Law.
Disclaimer: We tried very hard to summarize what the high-level points we think you should know if you're a pregnant, working woman in New Jersey. However we're not attorneys or experts, so please check New Jersey's Department of Labor website for complete information.
What is Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) in New Jersey and How Does It Apply to Pregnant Women?
If you're unable to work due to medical complications related to your pregnancy or childbirth, you may receive temporary disability benefits to cover a portion of your lost wages. In a normal pregnancy, the applicable period of eligibility for these disability payments typically begins four weeks prior to delivery and six weeks after childbirth (or eight weeks in the case of a C-section delivery). You may be eligible for TDI over a longer period if a doctor certifies that you have experienced complications or are still unable to physically perform your job.
What is Family Leave Insurance (FLI) in New Jersey?
Most New Jersey employees are eligible for FLI, which provides up to six weeks of partially paid leave for the period of time you wish to bond with a newborn baby (or adopted child).
Since FLI and TDI are different and distinct, you may qualify for both TDI and FLI. Note, however, that TDI requires a medical diagnosis demonstrating that you are unable to work due to pregnancy or medical complications. TDI benefits related to pregnancy are treated like any other short-term disability in New Jersey. You learn more about these pregnancy-related benefits on the State of New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.
Do You Get Full Pay While on Maternity Leave in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, Maternity Leave assistance allows for individuals to make two-thirds of their average weekly income while on leave.
How Is FLI Funded?
FLI benefits are fully employee-funded, which means that a small portion of your paychecks is withheld from all New Jersey employees making over a certain amount in order to pay for FLI benefits.
How Much Do I Receive Under TDI and FLI Benefits?
Your FLI and TDI benefits are calculated in the same way. What you will receive is based on the average of your weekly pay for the prior eight weeks. You are entitled to approximately two-thirds of this average weekly pay (up to a maximum of $633 per week as of 2017). The amount is approximate because you will not see state taxes withheld from your benefits payments (unlike your normal paycheck).
The schedule of maximum payments is updated periodically, so you should check with the NJ Department of Labor for the latest information.
Family Leave Insurance Benefits: Eligibility and Other Details
New Jersey's DOL website can give you a comprehensive overview of FLI. Here are a few key facts:
• You must have been paid at least $8,400 in the prior year or worked for 20 weeks (earning a minimum of $168 during each of those weeks) in New Jersey. For more about eligibility, check the State of New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.
• If your employer pays for your maternity leave, you will not also be able to receive FLI benefits at the same time. You may, however, receive FLI benefits concurrently with any private short-term disability payments you are receiving.
• If you receive any other government benefits (e.g. unemployment insurance or worker's compensation benefits), you will typically not be eligible for FLI benefits at the same time.
• FLI benefits must be taken during the first year of your baby's life and must be taken in chunks of seven consecutive days (unless your employer agrees otherwise).
• You must give your employer at least 30 days notice that you will be taking FLI leave. If you don't, your benefits may be reduced by 14 days.
• Employers may require you to use a maximum of two weeks of sick leave or paid time off (such as your vacation) at full pay concurrently during the FLI leave period. If they do, you will not be able to receive FLI benefits for the maximum six weeks (and will only receive four weeks of benefits). Moreover, when you do come back to work, you will have two fewer weeks of paid time off.
• There is a waiting period (seven calendar days) before you can start to receive FLI benefits. If your employer requires that you use your fully paid time off to count towards your FLI leave, you can apply that paid-time off towards your waiting period. Moreover, if you are using TDI and FLI consecutively, no second 7-day waiting period applies between the two.
If for some reason you do not qualify for family leave insurance you always can try to take out private short-term disability insurance policies privately if your employer does not offer a paid leave policy or short-term disability benefits to employees. Technically, a short-term disability policy will cover any health conditions that provide at least partial wage replacement in case you cannot work due to a health condition or medical problem, though pregnant employees commonly use short-term disability insurance benefits to help bridge unpaid periods during the period immediately after birth and for physical recovery and parental leave before they return to work.
It's important to note that there is an application and claim process to apply for short-term disability benefits that involves a doctor's note confirming that your condition renders you unable to work.
How Long Before Your Due Date Should You Go On Maternity Leave?
In New Jersey, to qualify for paid maternity leave you are allowed to leave four weeks before your child’s due date and stay on leave for six weeks after the birth. If you have a cesarean, you are allowed eight weeks of paid leave after the birth of your child. If there is a complication with the birth, women may be eligible for a leave extension.
What is the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA)?
FLI does not protect your job. However, New Jersey's Family Leave Act requires certain employers to give you up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave every 24 months and protects your job while you're gone.
While the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers similar protections, the NJFLA applies to more people since it applies to employers who have 50 or more global employees (as opposed to 50 employees within a 75-mile radius under the FMLA0. You're eligible for NJFLA if you've worked at your company for at least 12 months and clocked a minimum of 1,000 hours. If you're one of the highest-paid employees at your company, however, an employer may deny you NJFLA. \
Is FMLA Paid in New Jersey?
No. FMLA or NJFMLA is not paid for in New Jersey — just like FMLA on a national scale is not paid leave. But the program does allow for 12 weeks of unpaid leave when you welcome a new child — either by a pregnancy, adoption, or foster care. The NJFLA also extends the benefits of FMLA by allowing for more people to be eligible.
What is the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?
This law applies to all private and public employers and prohibits them from pregnancy discrimination or discrimination against women due to childbirth or related conditions. Employers may not treat pregnant women less favorably than those who are not pregnant but have similar work abilities. It requires them to provide reasonable accommodations such as bathroom breaks and assistance with manual labor as well.
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