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Understand the updates to New Jersey’s Family Leave Act

Life changes most certainly happen. Whether it’s welcoming a new child into the family – or needing to care for a sick family member – there are certainly times when your family needs to come first.

Recently, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law some rather significant changes to the New Jersey Family Leave Act. It is important for you to understand what these changes mean and to take legal action if your employer is failing to follow the law.

In this blog post, we will focus on three of these changes to the NJFLA.

No. 1: Rules now apply to smaller employers

It used to be that the rules of the state’s family leave act only applied to those working for a company with 50 or more employees. However, now the rules apply to employers with 30 or more employees. This means more job protections are in place for people working at smaller companies.

No. 2: Family leave expansion

The old rule gave 12 weeks of job-protected leave to an employee during a 24-month period. This meant that a woman working for a company with the minimum employee cap – then 50, but now 30 – could take up to 12 weeks of protected leave after the birth or adoption of a child. This rule is still the same, but the law now also includes the placement of a foster child.

If for some reason a parent also needs to take intermittent leave after the birth, adoption or placement of a child, this can also now be done without needing the employer’s approval. Prior to this change, the leave had to be consecutive – unless the employer approved otherwise. This change gives employees flexibility, if needed.  

No. 3: More options for who you need to care for

There are times when you may need to take off extended time from work to care for a family member with a serious medical condition. The act’s definition of what a family member is was recently amended to include sibling, grandparent, parent-in-law and a person related to the employee either by blood, or where the relationship is close enough that it is like that of a family member.

Not all employers will play fairly

All of these updates could certainly be considered “wins” for employees. It recognizes varied family dynamics and provides employees with necessary job protections. However, just because this is law – do not take this to mean that all employers will willingly go along. Some will even downright try to game the system and will retaliate against employees who attempt to use legally protected leave.

The good news here is that the law is on the side of the employee and employers who retaliate can and should be held responsible.

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