Leslie A. Farber
New Sick Leave Law in New Jersey: What You Need to Know
The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act went into effect on Oct. 29, ranking the state among only 10 in the country that have mandatory paid #sickleave laws. The new legislation requires all New Jersey employers, regardless of size, to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to covered employees.
All employees working in the state are eligible for paid leave under the Act, with the exception of:
Construction employees working under a collective bargaining agreement
Per diem health care employees
Public employees who are already required to receive paid sick leave
Here are some key facts businesses and employees need to know about the new law:
Eligible employees are entitled to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave in a benefit year (any period of 12 consecutive months as established by the employer). Employers may choose to provide employees, in the beginning of each benefit year, with the full amount of earned sick leave that each employee would be entitled to accrue.
Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of earned but unused sick leave into the next benefit year. However, employers are not required to permit employees to use more than 40 hours of sick leave in a benefit year. Alternatively, employers may offer employees the option to receive payment of their unused sick days in the final month of a given benefit year.
An employee accrues sick leave immediately upon starting employment, but employers can prohibit the use of sick leave until 120 calendar days after the employee’s start date.
The Act specifically outlines the circumstances under which paid sick leave can be used. This includes diagnosis, care or treatment of an employee's own mental or physical illness or that of a covered family member; closure of an employee's workplace or of a school or childcare facility of an employee's child; and time to attend a meeting requested or required by school staff to discuss a child's health condition or disability. The law also defines who is considered a spouse, child and family member.
In the case of planned absences, employers may require advance notice of up to seven days.
If an employee is absent for three or more consecutive days, the employer may require documentation that confirms that the employee used sick leave for a covered purpose.
Employers must maintain documents showing the hours worked and the amount of sick leave used by employees for a period of five years.
It is important for both employers and employees to understand that retaliation is prohibited under the new law. The Act creates a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliatory conduct when an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in activity protected under the act. This includes such employee actions as filing a complaint, cooperating with an investigation, opposing policies that are unlawful under the Act or informing others of his or her rights under the Act. Adverse actions against an employee can include such things as firing, demotion, reduction in pay or status.
If you are an employer with workers in New Jersey, you need to review your current policies to determine whether you have to implement a paid #sicktimepolicy or amend your existing policies to ensure they are compliant with the new law. Inform managers and supervisors of any policy changes, revise employee handbooks and make sure all staff members understand the new policies. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact our office at 973-509-8500 x213 or LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.