Understanding New Jersey's Earned Sick Leave Law: A Guide for Employers
In recent years, New Jersey has taken significant steps to ensure workers access essential benefits, including earned sick leave. The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law requires most employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. As an employer in New Jersey, it's crucial to understand the nuances of this law to ensure compliance and support your employees.
Who is Covered?
The law applies to nearly all employers in New Jersey, regardless of size. It covers most employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. There are few exceptions, such as certain construction employees under a collective bargaining agreement and per-diem healthcare employees.
Accrual of Sick Leave
Employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours in a benefit year. Employers can also offer 40 hours of sick leave upfront at the beginning of the benefit year.
Use of Earned Sick Leave
Employees can use their accrued sick leave 120 days after their employment starts. They can use this leave for:
Personal or a family member's illness, injury, or adverse health condition.
Attending a school-related conference, meeting, or event.
Time off due to domestic or sexual violence affecting the employee or a family member.
Closure of the workplace or child's school due to a public health emergency.
Carry Over and Payout
Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave to the next benefit year. However, employers are not required to provide more than 40 hours of sick leave in a single benefit year. Alternatively, employers can offer employees a payout for unused sick leave in the final month of the benefit year.
Employers must maintain records documenting hours worked and sick leave taken by employees for a period of five years. If an employer fails to maintain or retain these records, it's presumed they have violated the law, unless they can prove otherwise.
Notice and Posting Requirements
Notify employees of their rights under this law, including posting the notification in a conspicuous place.
Provide employees with a written copy of the notice.
Distribute the notice to new employees at the time of hiring.
Prohibitions and Protections
Employers cannot retaliate or discriminate against an employee for requesting or using earned sick leave. They also cannot require employees to find replacements for their shifts during their absence.
Interaction with Other Leave Policies
If an employer already has a paid time off (PTO) policy that offers an equal or greater amount of leave and meets the conditions of the Earned Sick Leave Law, they don't need to provide additional sick leave.
New Jersey law allows employers to require reasonable documentation if an employee uses earned sick leave on three or more consecutive workdays or specific dates specified by the employer. The law prohibits employers from requiring employees to specify the medical reason for the leave.
The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law represents a significant shift in the state's approach to worker rights and benefits. As an employer, staying informed and proactive in implementing these changes is not just about compliance but also about creating a supportive work environment. Regularly reviewing and updating your policies can help ensure that you're not only adhering to the law but also fostering a culture of care and understanding.
Download the NJ Sick Leave Policy Handout
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As with any legal issue, it is important that you obtain competent legal counsel before making any decisions about how to respond to a subpoena or whether to challenge one - even if you believe that compliance is not required. Because each situation is different, it may be impossible for this article to address all issues raised by every situation encountered in responding to a subpoena. The information below can give you guidance regarding some common issues related to subpoenas, but you should consult with an attorney before taking any actions (or refraining from acts) based on these suggestions. Separately, this post will focus on New Jersey law. If you receive a subpoena in a state other than New Jersey, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney in your state, as certain rules differ in other states.