When must my employer allow leave in New Jersey?

Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Answered by:
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Located in Hackensack, NJ
Deutsch Atkins, P.C.

Adam J. Kleinfeldt - Employment Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Deutsch Atkins, P.C.
Hackensack, NJ

Fax: 201-498-0909

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There are various circumstances which may compel employers in New Jersey to provide a leave of absence.  Under certain circumstances, employers covered by certain laws must allow employees to take leave for their own serious health condition; the serious health condition of an immediate family member; pregnancy, childbirth, or to care for a newborn; military services; jury duty; and in certain circumstances, for bona fide religious observances.

Serious Health Conditions / Disabilities

In certain situations, both New Jersey and federal laws require covered employers to allow leave when an employee or the employee’s immediate family member suffers from a serious health condition.  Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), most employers with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (in a one year period) to an eligible employee (one who has worked 1250 hours a year in a one-year period), with guaranteed reinstatement to the same or an equivalent position at the end of the leave.  Employers are also required to comply with certain notification obligations to the employee, upon learning of the need for a covered leave of absence.  Employers may require that any accrued time off or vacation time be used contemporaneously with the leave of absence.

New Jersey’s Family Leave Act provides similar protections, however, it does not apply to the employee’s own serious health condition.  Under the New Jersey law, most employers with 50 or more employees must allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of continuous leave within 24 months.

Both New Jersey and federal law prohibit retaliation against employees who utilize their rights under the laws.  Additionally, employers may not interfere with the leave.

Under certain circumstances where an employee’s serious health condition constitutes a disability, anti-discrimination laws (such as the American’s with Disabilities Act or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination) may require that an unpaid leave of absence be provided as a reasonable accommodation.  Typically, the leave must have a specific duration and must not pose an undue burden to the employer.  Whether a leave is a reasonable accommodation is a very fact-specific matter.

Pregnancy and Caring for a Newborn

Eligible employees who require medical leave due to a pregnancy or to give birth to a child can obtain a leave under the both federal and New Jersey laws in most circumstances.  Further covered employees caring for a newborn are entitled to leaves under both the federal and New Jersey leave laws.  This includes employees adopting a newborn. 

Employees should note there are federal and state laws that prohibit the discrimination against employees on the basis of their pregnancy. 

Military Service

If eligible employees are also members of the uniformed services who are compelled to serve, the FMLA provides them with unpaid leaves of absence.  Military members also may have the right to return to their position when they complete their service.

Religious Observances

Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination as well as federal law, employees have rights to take leave for bona fide religious observances, provided that the leave does not pose an undue burden on the employer.


No laws require employers to permit leaves of absence to grieve the loss of a loved one. However, losing a loved one may result in the employee or their immediate family member experiencing a serious health condition as defined in the leave laws.  Under these circumstances, a leave pursuant to the laws must be provided and it is possible that a reasonable accommodation to a disability might also be required under the anti-discrimination laws.

Jury Duty

New Jersey law requires employers to provide their employees time off to serve on jury duty and also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees because they take time off to serve on jury duty.  The law does not require employers to compensate employees while they complete jury service.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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