The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law went into effect in October 2018, and employers must comply. The new law applies to all New Jersey businesses, no matter how large and how many they employ. Many workers who were not able to take sick leave in the past will now be able to accrue sick leave. Even businesses that are headquartered outside of New Jersey will have to provide sick leave to those workers employed in the state.
Although the Earned Sick Leave Law will apply to most New Jersey employees, there are a few exceptions. These include:
- Per diem hospital healthcare employees
- Construction workers hired pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement
- Public employees who have sick leave benefits by state law
Employees who qualify under this law are entitled to one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work, with a maximum accumulation of up to 40 hours of sick leave in a benefit year. The benefit year is defined as 12 consecutive months established by an employer. The most recent regulations also state that there must be a single benefit year for all employees. The law does allow employers to create policies that provide additional leave time.
Furthermore, employees will be able to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave. Employers have the option of choosing to payout sick leave, or they can ask the employee if they want a payout or carry over their unused time. This will occur in the final month of the employer’s benefit year for unused sick leave.
What Qualifies as a Sick Day?
There are several allowable reasons for taking a sick day. These include:
- Your own health needs or the health needs of a family member. A family member is defined as a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent, grandparent, or another individual related by blood to the employee or whose association is equal to that of a family relationship.
- Any issues that result from an employee or an employee’s family member being a victim of domestic or sexual violence. This includes obtaining the medical attention necessary for a physical or psychological injury, receiving services from a designated domestic violence agency or another victim services organization, relocation, legal services, or participation in any related legal proceeding.
- The closing of the employee’s workplace, school, or childcare facility because of a public health emergency.
- A child’s school-related conference or other event.
Employee Rights Under the NJ Paid Sick Leave Law
Nearly every employee in New Jersey is entitled to paid sick leave under the law, including those paid hourly wages, salary, and those whose earnings come from commission or tips. Employers are prohibited from denying workers sick leave or retaliating against those who use or ask about sick leave. Retaliation is any action that has an adverse effect on an employee, such as termination, demotion, transfer, harassment or bullying. Those who have been wrongfully denied paid sick leave or believe they were subjected to retaliation for exercising their rights in the workplace are strongly advised to contact a New Jersey employment lawyer with experience handling wage and hour claims.