Taking time off from your job to address your own health concerns or the medical needs of a family member is a real concern for many workers. While certain employers offer paid family or sick leave as part of their benefits package, many do not. Under federal law, employers are not required to give their employees paid sick or family leave. In certain circumstances, employees may be eligible to take unpaid sick leave pursuant to the Family Medical and Leave Act of 1993. Legislation drafted by the Society for Human Resources Management to encourage paid sick leave for all companies is under committee review in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Individual State Laws
Many states, including New Jersey, have passed their own paid family and sick leave laws, which would require employers to provide paid leave to their employees when certain conditions are met. Under the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI) Program, workers who take time off to care for sick family members may receive partial wage-replacement benefits for a maximum of six weeks within a 12 month period. Employees covered under the FLI Program have paid into the state’s family leave insurance program through payroll deductions.
Each state has its own rules with respect to employee eligibility and leave accrual. In the absence of a federal mandate for paid sick leave, some local governments have passed their own paid family and sick leave laws. The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that two out of three private sector employees are eligible for paid sick leave.
Airline and Railroad Workers Argue for Exemption from Law
Certain industry trade groups have been lobbying for an exemption to state and local sick pay laws. Recent lawsuits filed by representatives of airlines and railroads in Washington and Massachusetts argue that these industries, which conduct interstate activities, should be exempt from state laws that require paid sick leave. Airlines for America, which includes representatives from American Airlines, United Continental, FedEx Corp., and the United Parcel Service, Inc., is the plaintiff in the airlines lawsuit. The railroad industry lawsuit, being led by CSX Corp., relies on federal railroad rules prohibiting local interference for the exemption request. These industries believe it would be impractical and nearly impossible to comply with the varying state and local laws, given the widespread geographical activities of these companies.
Although the airlines and railroads are voicing opposition to state and local sick pay laws, many employees support the laws. With over 50,000 members at 20 different airlines, the flight attendant union, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, has publicly opposed the lawsuits. Several railroad employee union groups also have indicated their support for state and local paid sick leave laws.
Under current federal railroad law, railroads provide workers with paid sick time after their fourth day of illness. The current law bars states from adding additional paid leave requirements. The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled in favor of CSX, with respect to certain arguments, although the case is still pending as the lower court reviews other legal issues.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for Workers’ Rights
If you are an employer or employee and have additional questions about whether local sick-pay laws apply to you, the experienced Marlton employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are here to help. Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.