On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Paid Sick Leave Act which supplements N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a, and guarantees paid sick leave for employees. It is one of the most expansive paid sick leave laws in the country. The law – which takes effect on October 29, 2018, will require employers to offer employees one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they have worked. Employees can use up to 40 hours of sick leave a year.
While many employers offer paid sick leave, according to NJ.com, as many as 1.2 million workers –about one-third of New Jersey’s workforce – do not receive paid leave.
According to a Press Release from the Office of the Governor, employees may use paid sick leave for:
- Diagnosis, treatment, or recovery from a mental or physical illness or injury, or preventive care, for the employee or a family member
- Obtaining services if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence
- Circumstances arising from a public health emergency
- A school-related meeting or event with regard to the employee’s child
If an employer offers paid time off, which is fully paid and includes at least personal time, vacation time, and sick days that accrue at a rate equal to or greater than provided in the statute (1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work), then the employer is in compliance with the law.
New hires may be subject to a 120-calendar-day waiting period before use of accrued leave (though employers may permit employees to use leave sooner). After the 120-day waiting period, new hires may use leave as soon as it is accrued.
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. Further, employers must maintain records of sick leave earned and used, and they must post notice of the act (to be provided by commissioner).
Employers can require advanced notice for sick leave requests that are foreseeable. Employers may not retaliate against employees for taking sick leave.
Lastly, New Jersey is also advancing a bill to expand the New Jersey Paid Family Leave law. The New Jersey Paid Family Leave law provides family leave insurance (similar to unemployment insurance). Under the current law, workers are entitled to six weeks (42 days) off at up to two-thirds of their pay to a maximum of $633 a week. The new law provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave (84 days) and up to 90 percent of a worker’s pay up to $1,195 per week. Currently, workers are only entitled to Family Leave pay if their employer employees 50 or more workers. The proposed law would provide Family Leave pay to workers at smaller companies with at least 30 employees.
Employment law is constantly evolving. At Levine Staller, our attorneys stay abreast of all new legal developments and analyze the potential implications for our clients. If you are an employee who experienced workplace discrimination or an employer looking for reliable legal and/or compliance advice, contact our employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. We advise clients in Atlantic County, Cape May County, Ocean County and throughout New Jersey from our office in Atlantic City. Contact us online or call us at 609-348-1300 for a free confidential consultation.