Know Your Rights

Our workplace rights are meaningless unless we know how and when to use them. 

Jump to: Weingarten Rights | FMLA and Leaves | NJ Paid Family Leave | PEOSH

Weingarten Rights

What is an investigatory meeting?

An investigatory interview is a meeting in which a Supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or discharge may result from what s/he says, the employee has the right to request Union representation.

Examples of Meetings where Weingarten Rights should be asserted

  • The purpose of the interview is to elicit facts from the employee to support disciplinary action that is probable or that is being considered, or to obtain admissions of misconduct or other evidence to support a disciplinary decision already made.
  • The employee is required to explain his/her conduct, or defend it during the interview, or is compelled to answer questions or give evidence.
  • The purpose of the interview is to investigate an employee's performance where discipline, demotion or other adverse consequences to the employee's job status or working conditions are a possible result.

How to assert your Weingarten Rights

Tell management you want to cooperate with the interview but you are asking for the meeting to be put on hold so that a union representative can attend the meeting with you. A representative can be a Steward or a Staff Representative from your Local office.

Do not go into the meeting alone unless you are absolutely sure that no discipline will result.

Be sure to call your Staff Representative or Shop Steward as soon as possibl in advance of the meeting.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Family Leave Act (FLA)

What do all these terms mean? What's the difference?

FMLA is federal Family Medical Leave Act. It covers absences or leaves for your own medical condition. 

FLA is the Family Leave Act. It covers absences or leaves for your own condition or if you need to care for a family member. 

Family Leave Insurance is a NJ program, commonly called "Paid Family Leave." This provides partial wage replacement if you are unable to attend work. 

Am I eligible for FMLA?

Private Sector: Employers with 50 or more employees on each working day for at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year. 

Public Sector: Federal government, its agencies, and US Postal Service·State government, agencies (including schools) and political subdivisions.

What situations are covered by FMLA?

  • Birth of a child, adoption or foster care
  • Care of a spouse, child or parent with serious health condition
  • Employee's own serious health condition involving any of the following:
    • inpatient care in a medical facility or subsequent treatment for such inpatient care
    • inpatient care in a medical facility or subsequent treatment for such inpatient care
    • Incapacity requiring more than 3 days of absence from work
    • incapacity or treatment due to a chronic health condition (e.g. asthma, epilepsy)
    • any period of incapacity whic is permanent or long-term due to a condition which may not be effectively treated (e.g. Alzheimer's Disease)
    • any period of absence to receive multiple treatments either for reconstructive surgery or which would result in at least 3 consecutive days of absence withouth such medical intervention

Is FMLA paid time off or unpaid time?

FMLA is a protected status granted to the approved leave time related to your condition. FMLA could be applied to your own paid sick leave to protect you from discipline for excessive absenteeism. FMLA can also be applied to unpaid extended leave once your own benefit leave time is exhausted. Your paid leave benefits will be covered by your contract or by other law. 

NJ's Paid Family Leave (Family Leave Insurance) law which took effect in 2009 expanded the state's temporary disability insurance (TDI) program to give workers up to six weeks of family leave benefits to care for a seriously ill family member or a newborwn or newly adopted child. Workers will receive two-thirds their weekly salary up to $524 per week.

Can I take intermittent leave instead of consecutive FMLA? 

You can take FMLA as intermittent leave or as consecutive leave. Make sure your medical provider is clear in your paperwork on this point.

FMLA can be taken in separate blocks of time. It may be scheduled in periods as brief as one horu to blocks of several weeks consecutively. The employee may use FMLA to reduce their hours per day or week (e.g. may need to go from 8 hours per day to 6 hours per day).

How do I apply for FMLA? Who decides if FMLA is approved? 

Your Human Resources department should provide all the forms required to bring to your medical professional. Your doctor should complete the forms and state clearly whether you are seeking intermittent or consecutive FMLA leave. Your doctor should clearly state how long the condition is expected to continue. If you are seeking FMLA to care for a family member, your family member's doctor can complete the form for you and list you as a caregiver. 

NJ Family Leave Insurance aka "Paid Family Leave"

Family Leave Insurance provides New Jersey workers cash benefits to bond with a newborn, newly adopted, newly placed foster child, or to provide care for a seriously ill or injuredloved one.  While most New Jersey workers who take family leave are covered under the State’s family leave program, some employers provide Family Leave Insurance through a plan with a private insurance carrier instead. If you are not sure about your coverage, ask your employer.

  • The program extends NJ's existing Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program to include periods of absence due to temporary family disability.
  • FLI is 100% employee-funded through payroll deductions from employees up to $0.64 per week
  • All NJ workers who contribute to the program will be able to draw benefits starting July 1, 2009
  • Employees who utilize the program recevie 2/3rds of their normal pay, for up to 6 weeks, capped at a certain amount annually.
  • Employees taking family leave must submit documentation from a doctor to their employer certifying that their family member is seriously ill
  • Small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt from the paid family leave insurance program. NJ public employees in state and local government are included under this program and are eligible to receive benefits

Employees can receive up to $903 per week as of 2021. The maximum weekly benefit is determined by your salary and earnings.

More information about the Family Leave Insurance program is at the NJDOL website.

PEOSH - Public Employees Occupational Health and Safety

The NJ state PEOSH act protects public employees so they can work in an environment free from safety and health hazards. Under the 1984 New Jersey Occupational Safety and Health Act, the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services investigates complaints related to health hazards in the workplace while the NJ Department of Labor investigates complaints related to safety hazards. 

NJ Dept. of Labor PEOSH

The NJ Dept. of Labor PEOSH program handles workplace safety complaints.

NJ Dept. of Health PEOSH

The NJ Dept. of Health handles workplace health complaints.