Earlier this month New Jersey passed a paid sick leave act (the “Act”) that goes into effect on October 29, 2018. This new law requires all New Jersey employers regardless of size to provide paid sick time off. This law preempts towns and municipalities from enacting new paid sick law ordinances and preempts ordinances that were on the books prior to the passage of this new law. For a full copy of the Act click here.
Amount of Paid Time Available
Under the new Act, employees will accrue one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked. Employers are not required to permit employees to accrue or use more than 40 hours of sick time in any “benefit year”. A benefit year is defined as any 12 consecutive month period where an employee can use earned sick time. Unused time will carry over to the next benefit year unless employees accept payment on account of such benefits in accordance with the Act. Employers are also not required to allow an employee to carry over more than forty hours of paid sick time from one year to the next benefit year. Employers, in their discretion, can make all forty hours (5 days) of paid sick time available immediately at the beginning of a benefit year.
Earned Paid Time May Be Used For:
Section 3 of the Act provides that paid time may be used by an employee for the following purposes:
- the diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health conditions or for other employee preventative medical care;
- to aid or care for a family member of the employee during diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from a family member’s medical illness or other adverse or preventative medical care;
- an absence necessary due to circumstances resulting from the employee, or a family member of the employee, being a victim of domestic or sexual violence under certain expressed conditions;
- time where the employee is not able to work because of a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee or where a conference is required related to such child’s education
Limitation and Notice of Paid Sick Time
An employer is only required to provide an employee with paid sick time for the purposes set forth in the Act. Thus, it follows that nothing in the Act prevents an employer for disciplining an employee who takes paid sick time off for a reason not authorized by the Act. Further, employers may require when possible that employees provide at least seven days notice of his or her intent to use paid time off and the expected duration. If seven days is not possible, then the employee shall provide notice as soon as possible. If the expected absence will last three or more consecutive days, the employer may require written documentation.
Record Keeping and Anti-Retaliation
The Commissioner of the NJ Department of Labor is developing a notice that employees must post in the workplace. Once developed, a copy of the notice must be handed out to all current employees and to new hires. The notice must also be made available to an employee when requested. Not surprisingly, employers are not allowed to retaliate against an employee who takes or requests paid sick time. There also is a rebuttable presumption that retaliation has occurred if an adverse action takes place against an employee within 90 days of an employee informing the employer, other employees or the Dept. of Labor of a violation of the Act.
Take Away for Employers
Employers need to familiarize themselves with this new Act and make sure that the appropriate individuals within the organization are aware of how hours are accrued, used and carried over. Remember, this new law applies regardless of size (number of employees). Failure to comply will be expensive because it will be regarded as a violation of the NJ State Wage and Hour Law which provides for double damages and attorney fees. Please reach out to your attorneys to review your current paid sick leave program to the extent you might already have one, develop a new one if you don’t and what needs to changed in your employee handbook.
Douglas Leavitt is an attorney with Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt and focuses his practice on guiding business with their daily operational needs. Please feel free to contact him or any of the other attorneys at Danziger Shapiro & Leavitt to discuss how this new change will affect your business or any other issue you may have that concerns you and your business.
This entry is presented for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.