Both the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide the opportunity for employees to take unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons for up to 12 weeks per years without fear of losing their jobs. While these two laws do have some differences, they largely provide the same protections for employees. However, there are some mistakes that employees can make that may jeopardize their ability to use FMLA time and leave them in a difficult position in the face of serious medical or family issues. The following are some mistakes you should avoid if you are considering using FMLA time.
Assuming you are covered under FMLA or NJFLA
Coverage under FMLA laws is not automatic and the following must be true for you to be covered:
- You work for a school, a government agency, or a private employer that has at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks of the year.
- You have worked for that employer at least one year.
- If you are part-time, you must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the past year.
Confusing FMLA leave with disability benefits
In some cases of serious illness or injury, you may be eligible for temporary disability benefits from the state of NJ if you are unable to work. Too many people assume that, if they qualify for disability benefits, they also have job protection. However, you must apply to use FMLA time in order to ensure you cannot be fired during your time away from work. Temporary disability is available for 26 weeks, however, once your 12 weeks of FMLA time have been used, you may be at risk of being let go of.
Not understanding how your employer calculates available FMLA time
A qualified employer must provide up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. However, that 12-month period may not necessarily correlate with the calendar year. Employers can choose to use a rolling 12-month period, can use your date of hire as the start of the year, can use the fiscal year, or another acceptable year-long period. Make sure you understand how your employer calculates FMLA time so that you know how much is available to you at any particular time. Also, know if your employer has a policy requiring you to use paid leave prior to using FMLA.
Consult with an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer today
The Law Office of David H. Kaplan is committed to helping employees in New Jersey with a wide array of employment law matters. If you believe you have wrongfully been denied FMLA time or have any other employment issue, please call our office at 973-426-0021 for a free consultation today.