All New Jersey Employers Now Required to Provide Sick Leave

All New Jersey Employers Now Required to Provide Sick Leave

The newly signed law requires employers of all sizes to provide sick leave to all employees – including part-time employees.  Employers should prepare for the October 29, 2018 effective date by reviewing the requirements and their current policies. 

On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a statewide Paid Sick Leave bill, making New Jersey the tenth state with a paid sick leave law. The law will take effect 180 days after the governor signed the bill, which will be October 29, 2018.

Once in effect, the law will require all employers (regardless of size) to provide up to forty hours of paid sick leave per benefit year to covered employees. Paid sick leave must accrue to employees at the rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked, up to a maximum of forty hours per year.  Employers can choose to front-load the sick leave by providing employees with at least forty hours of paid sick time in advance, at the beginning of the benefit year.  New employees must be made eligible to use the sick leave no later than the 120th day after employment begins.

Importantly, this new law preempts any municipal ordinance regarding paid sick leave.  Employers are obligated to allow the unused sick leave to carry over to the next year, up to forty hours for the year. Notably, however, employers are not required to allow an employee to use more than forty hours of paid sick time in the benefit year. Employers are not required to pay out an employee’s accrued, but unused sick time.  If a payment for accrued, but unused sick time is made, that payment must be at the employee’s rate of pay in effect at the time of payment.

Most private employees are covered by the law, but per diem healthcare workers, and construction workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement are excluded. Employers are covered regardless of the number of employees and regardless if the employees are full or part-time.

The Paid Sick Leave Law allows employees to use paid sick time for covered events. These events include:

  • Diagnosis, care, treatment of, or recovery from, a mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health conditions of the employee;
  • Preventative medical care of the employee;
  • Caring for a family member during diagnosis, care, treatment of, or recovery from, a mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health conditions;
  • Preventative medical care of the family member;
  • Absence(s) necessary due to the employee or employee’s family member being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, if the earned sick leave is used for:
    • Medical attention needed to recover from physical or psychological injury or disability caused by such violence;
    • Services from a designated domestic violence agency or other victim services organization;
    • Psychological or other counseling;
    • Relocation; or
    • Other legal services, including acquiring a restraining order or preparing for, or participating in, any civil or criminal legal proceeding in relation to such violence;
  • Time needed after the closure of the employee’s workplace or the school/place of care of the employee’s children by order of a public official; and
  • Attending a school-related function for the employee’s child requested or required by the child’s school.

If an absence is foreseeable, employers can and should require advance notice. In this case the employer may also require employees to make an effort to schedule the use of sick time that does not obstruct the employer’s operations. If an employee is absent for three or more consecutive days the employer may require documentation that the employee used the time paid sick time for one of the covered purposes.

Employers have notification responsibilities under the new law to notify employees of their rights.  The Department of Labor will issue a notice which should be posted and distributed to employees within thirty days of issuance.  Employers also have recordkeeping responsibilities to keep records of the number of hours employees have worked and the number of sick days the employee has used for five years.

The new paid sick leave law will impact all New Jersey employers and it is important to take action and prepare now to ensure you are in compliance with the upcoming obligations.  Employers should review their current leave policies to ensure they are providing sufficient paid sick leave to all employees – including your part-time employees.

If you have questions or concerns about the new Paid Sick Leave Law or how these changes will affect you, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Employment and Labor Law attorneys: Thomas Ryan, Esq. (tryan@lcrlaw.com), Ursula Leo, Esq. (uleo@lcrlaw.com), or Jessica Jansyn, Esq. (jjansyn@lcrlaw.com).  Our attorneys can also be reached by phone at (973) 729-1880.