In New Jersey, must employers provide family leave to partners in civil unions? Yes! New Jersey’s Family Leave Act gives civil union partners the same rights as married spouses with regard to taking leave time from employment for a partner’s serious health condition.
But this is not the case in most states. Most states have not legally recognized the need for same-sex partners to take family leave for each others’ serious health conditions. The Federal Family Medical Leave Act does not provide for leave time for same-sex partners due to each others’ serious health conditions. So unless the employer chooses to provide that benefit, or it’s in the union’s collective bargaining agreement with the employer, most same-sex partners in the U.S. will not have leave time available to take care of a sick partner when they need it.
Both the New Jersey and the Federal family leave laws have many requirements to qualify for leave time under their provisions. I’ll cover these requirements in future posts, but I’ll go ahead and highlight the major differences between New Jersey’s Family Leave Act and the Federal Family Medical Leave Act:
1) The New Jersey law does not allow you to take leave for your own medical condition. To take leave for your own “serious health condition,” (as defined under Federal law) you have to qualify under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Not all employers and employees are covered by the FMLA.
Under New Jersey’s Family Leave Act allows certain employees who work for certain types of employers to take leave to care for: A newly born or adopted child; or a parent, child under 18, spouse, or civil union partner with a serious health condition.
2) New Jersey law provides for 12 weeks of leave in a 24-month period. Federal law provides for 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. There are times when the New Jersey law would apply and the Federal law would not, allowing for leave time where it would not otherwise be given.
In situations where both laws would apply simultaneously, Federal law would trump state law – the employee is not eligible for both state and Federal leave. In those situations, only the Federal leave rules would apply.
3) New Jersey’s Family Leave Act applies to employers who have 50 or more employees nationwide. However, the law would only provide leave for those employees who are located in New Jersey. By contrast, the Federal FMLA applies to employers who have 50 or more employees within 75 miles of each other.
4) As noted above, the Federal FMLA does not apply to civil union partners and the New Jersey Family Leave Act does.
Keep checking this blog for more information on New Jersey’s Family Leave Act requirements. Or make it easy on yourself and add my blog’s feed to your RSS reader or sign up for email alerts.