Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in New Jersey

The State of New Jersey has its own family leave law and provides paid pregnancy leave and paid family leave.

By , J.D.

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 give you the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for these reasons.

Other laws that might also give you the right to take time off work for pregnancy and childbirth include the following:

  • the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and
  • the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).

Both laws prohibit your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy. And 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 parental leave. But New Jersey's temporary disability and paid leave program doesn't actually protect your job so that you're guaranteed to get it back when you return. For that, you need job protection from the following laws.

Job Protections for Time Off During Pregnancy in New Jersey

There are two types of laws that might protect your job when you need to take pregnancy and maternity leave in New Jersey:

  • laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination, and
  • laws that require pregnancy leave.

Some are federal protections. Others apply only to people who work for New Jersey employers.

Laws That Protect You From Pregnancy Discrimination in New Jersey

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 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:

  • broken bones
  • heart attacks, or
  • cancer treatment.

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.

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:

  • breaks
  • opportunities to rest
  • light duty, and
  • modified work schedules, which could include working fewer hours.

All employers must provide these accommodations unless they would cause an undue hardship to the business.

Pregnancy Leave Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

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:

  • pregnancy
  • recovery from childbirth, and
  • bonding with and caring for your new child (parenting).

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.

Job Protections for Parenting Leave In New Jersey

The FMLA gives all new parents the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether the child is:

  • your biological child
  • an adopted child, or
  • a foster placement.

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.

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.

The New Jersey law differs from the FMLA in two other ways:

  • You can take 12 weeks off every two years, not every year as the FMLA allows.
  • You need only to have worked at least 1,000 hours for your employer in the past 12 months instead of the 1,250 hours required by the FMLA.

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.

Part-Time or Reduced Schedule Leave Under Federal and NJ Laws

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.

Leave for Parents Who Work for the Same New Jersey Employer

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. (This rule doesn't apply under New Jersey's parental leave law.) 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.

How New Jersey Employees Can Get Paid During Maternity and Paternity Leave

Both FMLA leave and leave under New Jersey's parental leave law are job-protected, unpaid leave. But that doesn't necessarily mean you can get at least 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:

  • sick days
  • vacation, or
  • PTO.

And fortunately, New Jersey is also one of the few states that provide paid pregnancy leave and family leave (including both maternity and paternity leave).

Getting Paid for Pregnancy Leave in New Jersey

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 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, that law does protect your right to take leave and to get your job back when your leave is over. (Learn more about how the FMLA protects your job when you take time off.)

Parental Leave Under New Jersey's Paid Family Leave Program

New Jersey has a paid family leave program 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 NJPFL 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.

Maximizing Your Paid Maternity Leave In New Jersey

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 parental 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.

Other Ways to Get Paid Maternity or Parental Leave in New Jersey

What if you don't qualify for paid family leave in New Jersey? You might be covered by paid time off through your employer. Your employer might offer one or more of the following:

  • maternity and paternity leave benefits
  • parental leave benefits, or
  • short-term disability insurance.

Talk to your manager or your employer's HR department (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.

FAQs About Maternity and Paternity Leave in New Jersey

Here are some frequently asked questions (and the answers) about New Jersey's maternity and paternity leave laws:

How long is maternity leave in New Jersey?

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.

How do I apply for maternity leave in New Jersey?

You can apply for temporary disability (TDI) benefits and parental leave benefits online at the NJ Department of Labor website.

Do men get paternity leave in New Jersey?

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.

Do I need to take my parental leave all at once?

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 your leave up.

Learn more about taking time off to have a baby under the FMLA.

Updated March 17, 2023

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