McLaughlin & Nardi’s employment attorneys represent employees in family and medical law claims, and when they have been retaliated against for taking or requesting family leave. Family leave in New Jersey is governed by both state and federal law. Both the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA) have long provided for 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for most employees who work for employers with 50 or more employees. However, on April 7, 2008, New Jersey became the third state to offer paid family leave when Governor Corzine signed the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act. The New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act provides for six weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn or newly-adopted child or a family member with a serious health condition. Unlike the FMLA and FLA, which are still in effect, the Paid Family Leave Act applies to all employers all employees of companies subject to the unemployment compensation laws, regardless of size. Eligible employees may receive two-thirds of their salary up to a maximum of $524 per week when the Act was adopted. The benefits will be paid by the State and funded through a tax withheld from all employees’ paychecks; it is estimated that the tax will be less than one dollar per week. Thus, employers will not have to incur any direct costs, although large employers will still bear the costs of administration and temporary replacements which they had already borne under the FMLA and FLA, and smaller employers will bear these costs for the first time. Under all of the laws, employees are only eligible for leave if they have worked at least 20 weeks. Since the New Jersey Paid Family Leave Act provides for only six weeks of paid leave, if the employee wishes to take the remaining six weeks of their leave under the New Jersey Family Leave Act or the Federal Medical Leave Act, it will be without pay. Under the Paid Family Leave Act, the employer can substitute two weeks of vacation time for two weeks of paid leave; under the FMLA and FLA, employees can be required to expend all of their vacation time while on leave. The employee is required to give advance notice in situations where it is possible, such as child birth or adoptions. Documentation is required. Employers cannot retaliate for an employee requesting family leave. It is important to note that while the Paid Family Leave Act provides for paid leave, it does not expressly protect the employee’s position while on leave. Thus, an employee on paid family leave should also designate the time as leave under the FLA and FMLA so that her position is protected. Of course, this applies only to employers with 50 or more employees; employees at smaller companies will not be able to protect their positions while they are on family leave. It remains to be seen if the courts will interpret the Paid Family Leave Act as protecting an employee’s position, but given its language no employee should count on such protection. Our employment attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of employment law, including family leave. We represent employees whose rights under the various New Jersey and Federal Family and Medical Leave laws have been violated. Please e-mail us or call (973) 890-0004 to obtain assistance if your rights have been violated.