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Monday, January 16, 2023

NJ FMLA Attorney, Family Leave to Care for Mother-in-Law, Father-in-Law

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not allow an employee to take time off to care for one’s parent-in-law. This is unsettling news for many couples because the lower wage earner in a couple is frequently the one who desires time off to care for an in-law. This makes economic sense because in a two-wage earning family, the person with the higher income frequently desires to remain working since the FMLA gives the right to unpaid leave, but not mandating paid leave. But to NJ employees, don’t despair! See the New Jersey Family Leave Act below, which does mandate time off to care for one’s parent-in-law.

Many persons are familiar with the FMLA which entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family medical reasons or the employee’s own medical reasons. The leave may be taken intermittently or non-intermittently  with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. It states in part that such covered employees have a legal right to take off twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;

The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;

To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;

For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

Workers have no rights under the federal FMLA, to take time off to care for their mother-in-law or father-in-law, because parents-in-law are not included in the definition of “parent”. The FMLA specifically excludes a parent -in-law in § 825.122 (c): Parent, Parent means a biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a son or daughter as defined in paragraph (d) of this section. This term does not include parents “in law.”

Fortunately, most New Jersey workers have a legal right to time off to care for a parent-in-law under the state statute, The New Jersey Family Leave Act, which specifically includes “parent-in-law” in its definition “parent”.

The NJ Family Leave Act, (FLA) is the most liberal statute in the country, regarding leave to care for family members and it contains the most liberal definitions of family members.

The FLA specifically includes “parent-in-law” in its definition of “parent”.

The FLA § 34:11B-3 (h) states:

“Parent" means a person who is the biological parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, resource family parent, step-parent, parent-in-law or legal guardian, having a "parent-child relationship" with a child as defined by law, or having sole or joint legal or physical custody, care, guardianship, or visitation with a child, or who became the parent of the child pursuant to a valid written agreement between the parent and a gestational carrier."

The FLA also has the most liberal definition of “family member” and includes any other individual related by blood to the employee and  persons who have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.

The FLA § 34:11B ( j) states:

“Family" member means a child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, or one partner in a civil union couple, or any other individual related by blood to the employee, and any other individual that the employee shows to have a close association with the employee which is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Under section (d.) family leave required by this act may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid leave. If an employer provides paid family leave for fewer than 12 workweeks, the additional weeks of leave added to attain the 12-workweek total required by this act may be unpaid.

Whereas the more restrictive FMLA requires the employer have at least 50 employees within 75 miles, the FLA applies to many employees who work for company with at least 30 employees throughout the US, and who worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,000 hours for the employer during the previous 12 months.

Note that the New Jersey Family Leave Act does not provide leave for the employee’s own health condition.

If You Quit Your Job, You May Lose Right to Prevail in a Lawsuit

In many instances of discrimination, if you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit unless you first take certain legally required measures to preserve your job while you are still employed. If you are thinking of quitting, or think you will be fired, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation to discuss your options in the safest way for you.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing employees on FMLA and FLA leave and retaliation issues, pregnant women, and disability issues. If you find yourself in a situation with inadequate job security because of the aforementioned issues, if you are thinking of resigning, or have been fired or think you will be fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

I am successful in bringing employee lawsuits against governmental entities and private employers and recovering money for victims of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and other discrimination. If you think you are being pushed out of your job or retaliated against, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law represents workers throughout the entire state, including Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, Montclair, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Union, Plainfield, Hamilton Township, Lakewood, Edison, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Franklin, Lakewood, and every NJ County, including Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, Morris, Gloucester, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Counties.



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