Do you need time off work for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting? If you work in New Jersey, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and New Jersey's parental leave law (NJFLA) might give you the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for these reasons. And several discrimination laws might give you the right to take time off work for pregnancy and childbirth.
In addition, New Jersey is one of only a handful of states that have a paid leave program for both temporary disability (including pregnancy and childbirth) and parenting leave.
Both the FMLA and the New Jersey Family Leave Act require your employer to let you take job-protected, unpaid leave. But that doesn't mean you can get some pay during your time off. To cover this unpaid time off, you can request (or might be required) to use your accrued paid leave, like:
Fortunately, New Jersey is also one of the few states that provide paid pregnancy leave and family leave (including both maternity and paternity leave).
New Jersey has a temporary disability insurance (TDI) program funded by employer and employee contributions (through payroll withholdings). If you take time off while you're temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy and childbirth, you can file a TDI claim.
For 2023, you must have earned $260 per week for 20 weeks, or $13,000 in a year, to qualify for NJ TDI. The TDI benefit can be as much as 85% of your average weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount ($1,025 for 2023).
For a normal pregnancy, benefits are generally available for up to four weeks before you have your baby and up to six weeks after you give birth (eight weeks for cesarean delivery). If you have a medically complicated pregnancy or birth and your doctor certifies your medical need for additional time off, you can generally get more benefits (up to the maximum of 26 weeks).
New Jersey's temporary disability program doesn't require your employer to give you time off in the first place, nor to give you back your job when you're ready to return to work. It only gives you the right to be paid for the time you take off.
But if you're covered by the FMLA (only for companies with at least 50 employees), that law does protect your right to take leave and to get your job back when your leave is over. You might also get protection from discrimination laws (more on this below).
New Jersey has a paid family leave program (NJPFL) that works similarly to its temporary disability insurance program. The paid family leave benefits are the same as New Jersey's TDI benefits.
Both parents can take paid family leave in New Jersey for up to 12 consecutive weeks to bond with a new child. But if you break up your New Jersey Paid Family leave into two parts, you only get eight weeks per year. So, if you take only four weeks of parental leave when your child is born, you'll only have four weeks of NJPFL left for the rest of the year.
New Jersey paid family leave benefits don't cover pregnancy or recovery from childbirth—that's what temporary disability insurance benefits are for. And NJ TDI benefits don't cover parenting leave.
But if you're having a baby and you qualify for paid time off under New Jersey's TDI and paid family leave programs, you can use those programs back-to-back to maximize your benefits.
For example, let's say you take job-protected FMLA leave for the last four weeks of your pregnancy and six weeks to recover from childbirth. And you collect New Jersey TDI benefits during those 10 weeks off.
At the end of your recovery period, you'd still be entitled to up to 12 consecutive weeks of paid family leave under New Jersey's PFL program. And your job would continue to be protected for those 12 weeks under the NJFLA. In this case, you could get a total of 22 weeks of job-protected, paid pregnancy, maternity, and parental leave.
New Jersey's temporary disability and paid leave programs don't actually protect your job so that you're guaranteed to get it back when you return. For that, you need job protection from other laws.
There are two types of laws that might protect your job when you need to take pregnancy and maternity leave in New Jersey:
Some are federal protections. Others apply only to people who work for New Jersey employers.
Three antidiscrimination laws can help women in New Jersey get their jobs back after taking maternity leave:
These laws are particularly helpful to those who don't qualify for FMLA leave (the FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees).
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. New Jersey's antidiscrimination law specifically requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" to allow employees to maintain a healthy pregnancy or recover from childbirth. The law mentions accommodations such as:
All employers must provide these accommodations unless they would cause an undue hardship to the business.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The PDA doesn't require your employer to give you time off work because of your pregnancy. But it does require employers to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy the same way the company treats employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons.
For example, let's say your employer allows other employees to take time off for temporary disabilities like:
Then, under the PDA, your company must also allow you to take the same time off when you're unable to work due to pregnancy.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The PWFA takes pregnancy protections in the workplace one step further. This 2023 law requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Under this law, reasonable accommodations can include time off work.
The FMLA is a federal law that gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for (among other things) the following:
If you qualify, you can use FMLA leave to take time off when you can't work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. (Learn more about your right to FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.) FMLA leave, by itself, is unpaid.
The FMLA and NJFLA have different rules for parenting leave.
The FMLA gives all new parents the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether the child is:
Bonding time is part of the total 12 weeks-per-year leave entitlement. So, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have ten weeks left to use for parental leave or for your own serious illness. (Learn more about how the FMLA protects your job when you take time off.)
New Jersey has its own parental leave law, the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), which allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off to bond with and care for a new child.
The NJFLA only entitles you to family or parental leave, unlike the FMLA, which also includes medical leave. So the New Jersey law doesn't protect your job when you take time off for pregnancy. (But you can use the FMLA for pregnancy leave and the NJFLA for parenting leave.)
The New Jersey law differs from the FMLA in two other ways:
If you qualify for leave under both the FMLA and New Jersey's parental leave law—in other words, if you meet the eligibility requirements under both laws—you might be able to take more than 12 weeks of leave. Because the NJFLA doesn't cover pregnancy leave, any time you take before giving birth would count against your FMLA leave only. Once you have your baby, you'd still have 12 weeks available under the state's parental leave law.
If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. But whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition.
This rule doesn't apply under New Jersey's parental leave law.
The FMLA allows you to take leave intermittently if it's medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up, you don't have to take a whole day off. Instead, you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave and then go back to work.
But for parental leave, the rules are different. Under both the FMLA and the NJ maternity and family leave laws, you can only use your parental leave a little at a time if your employer agrees to it—you aren't automatically entitled to intermittent parenting leave. And if your employer agrees to let you use your parenting leave intermittently, you must complete your time off within one year after your new child arrives.
Here are some frequently asked questions (and the answers) about New Jersey's maternity and paternity leave laws:
For a normal pregnancy and delivery, you can typically get up to four weeks off before your child is born and six to eight weeks afterward. But you're also entitled to up to 12 consecutive weeks of parental leave after you've recovered from childbirth, for a potential total of 22 to 24 weeks off.
You can apply for temporary disability (TDI) benefits and parental leave benefits online at the NJ Department of Labor website.
Yes. Under both the FMLA and NJFLA, both parents (regardless of gender) can take parental leave when a new child is born, adopted, or placed in the home for foster care.
No. But if you take NJFLA parental leave intermittently, you only get a total of 8 weeks off instead of the 12 weeks you'd get if you took it all at once.
If your employer agrees to it, you can take your 12 weeks per year of FMLA parental leave intermittently. But if your employer objects, you can't break FMLA leave up.
Learn more about taking time off to have a baby under the FMLA.
Updated August 8, 2023