Ask the BPHR Advisor: Understanding New Jersey’s Family Leave Benefits
FMLA, FLA, FLI…
Need HELP unscrambling the alphabet soup of family leave benefits available in New Jersey?
We’ve got you covered.
There is a lot of confusion between these similarly named benefits. FMLA and FLA provide unpaid, job-protected leave time whereas FLI is a monetary benefit that provides income replacement during leave.
For a deeper explanation, we turned to Lisa Salcido SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Director of Balance Point’s human resources consulting service, BPHR.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. FMLA applies to private sector employers that employ 50 or more employees (within 75 miles) in 20 or more workweeks.
Employees are eligible for FMLA if they have worked for the covered employer for at least 12 months (does not have to be consecutive) and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave.
Some qualifying reasons for FMLA leave are birth of a child, care for an immediate family member or the employee’s own serious health condition. A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period with continuation of group health insurance coverage.
Family Leave Act (FLA)
New Jersey state has a similar Family Leave Act (FLA), which provides job-protected leave for similar qualifying family medical reasons as FMLA, except FLA does not include leave for the employee’s own medical condition.
Also, FLA family care includes in-laws whereas FMLA does not. The employer must employ at least 50 employees (nationwide) who have been working for at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year to be covered under FLA.
To be eligible for leave under FLA, an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,000 hours in the preceding 12 months. An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave in any 24-month period with continuation of group health insurance coverage.
“Job-protected leave” means that both FMLA and FLA require the employer to reinstate the employee to the same position or to a position equivalent in status, pay and benefits, with few exceptions.
Family Leave Insurance (FLI)
New Jersey state also provides Family Leave Insurance (FLI). FLI is a paid benefit, that does not guarantee job protection. FLI applies to all employers regardless of size and all employees regardless of tenure.
The monetary benefit provides up to 6 weeks of partial wage replacement during a 12-month period. Benefits are payable to covered employees from either the NJ state plan or an approved employer-provided private plan.
FLI may be claimed to bond with a newborn or adopted child or to provide care for a seriously ill family member. FLI is financed 100% by worker payroll deductions. Employers do not contribute to the program.
The HELP you need
As you can see, there are several NJ leave benefits with different guidelines and it can be confusing for employers and employees. Also, employees may qualify for entitlements simultaneously under the various laws, so they may run concurrently.
For example, an employee can receive compensation benefits through FLI while being entitled to job protection under FLA.
There are also other separate federal and state statutes that may guarantee leave time or income replacement. Your Balance Point HR Generalist can advise you on all the leave policies that apply to your company and our software can track eligibility requirements such as tenure and hours worked.
To learn more, schedule a consultation with one of our Human Capital Management experts.