New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed the Paid Sick Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a, which requires New Jersey employers to provide paid sick leave for workers. Governor Murphy signed the bill shortly after signing other progressive bills that included one of the strongest equal pay laws in the country, women’s health funding, and automatic voter registration.
The paid sick leave law requires employers to give employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and workers can receive up to 40 hours of sick leave per year.
Under the Paid Sick Leave Act, employees may take off work for an injury or illness, or other adverse health condition or for preventive care, to care for family members, to care for themselves in the event of domestic or sexual violence, and when their child’s school or day care is closed due to an epidemic or public health emergency. The bill also prohibits retaliation against employees who use their earned time off
An employer’s failure to provide sick leave under the act is considered a violation of the State’s Wage and Hour law and such employers will be subject to the same remedies, penalties and other measure provided by such law, except that an award under this act shall include any actual damages and liquidated damages in addition to those provided under Wage and Hour law;
An employer may:
- require up to seven days advance notice if the use of earned sick leave is foreseeable; If not foreseeable, an employer may require notice of use of sick leave as soon as reasonably practicable;
- block out dates for foreseeable sick leave and require documentation for use of unforeseeable sick leave on blocked out dates;
- require documentation of reasonable necessity when three or more consecutive days sick days are used;
- take disciplinary action against employees who use earned sick leave for purposes other than those permitted under the act;
Prior to the signing of this bill, several municipalities in New Jersey had passed local ordinances mandating paid sick leave. Those ordinances will now be superseded by the statewide bill, set to take effect on October 29, 2018. New Jersey is the tenth state to implement such a law, joining Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Law Expected to Help Employees and Boost New Jersey’s Economy
According to Governor Murphy, an estimated 1.1 million workers in the state have been unable to earn sick leave. Governor Murphy hopes that the bill will show how much New Jersey values its workers and help make New Jersey a more desirable state in which to do business. Murphy stated that signing the bill was the right thing to do for the economy, noting that other states that have implemented such a law experienced increased productivity and a stronger economy.
Winning Over the Opposition
State lawmakers have been negotiating with advocate and business groups on the bill. One of the bill’s main sponsors credits New Jersey’s business community for taking part in the negotiations, stating she believes businesses will begin to thrive and see improved morale.
Originally an opponent of the mandate, the New Jersey Business Association applauded lawmakers for addressing its concerns about the law’s potential effects on businesses. A spokesperson for the association said that the agreed-upon changes to the bill will mitigate its negative effects on well-intentioned employers.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at Levine Staller Provide Experienced Legal Counsel to Employers and Employees
The South Jersey employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. are experienced in all employment law matters and provide skilled representation to both employers and employees. Employment laws in New Jersey are constantly evolving, and we pride ourselves on staying abreast of any new developments. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including in Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Cape May County from our office in Atlantic City. To arrange a confidential consultation, call us at 609-348-1300 or contact us online.