NJ Paid Sick Leave Law – What Does It Mean For Employers?

May 07, 2018
| David Pearson
NJ Paid Sick Leave Law

2018 is shaping up to be a significant year for employment law in New Jersey. In March, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation aimed to boost pay-equity laws in the state.

Later in the month, Governor Phil Murphy signed the pay-equity bill into law.

At the same time as this piece of legislation was passed, the New Jersey assembly advanced a bill on paid sick leave. On May 2nd, Governor Murphy officially signed the bill into law, making New Jersey the 10th state to enact mandatory paid sick leave legislation.

The new law, which goes into effect on October 29, 2018, will require New Jersey employers of all sizes to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to eligible employees.

Paid Sick Leave in New Jersey

The new law is important for New Jersey employers to understand completely in order to remain compliant, and avoid any lawsuits from employees.

The law will apply to most employees working in New Jersey, aside from a few exceptions:
  • Employees in the construction industry employed under a collective bargaining agreement
  • Per diem healthcare employees
  • Public employees who already have sick leave benefits

It’s also important to know that the law applies to any business entity in New Jersey that employs employees, regardless of size. The only exclusion are public employers who are required to provide paid sick leave to their employees.

Another important aspect to note is that this law will supersede all existing and any future municipal ordinances in the state that deal with paid sick leave. There are currently 13 municipalities that have their own paid sick leave ordinances.

How Does The Paid Sick Leave Law Work?

The law allows employees to accrue sick leave time with a cap of 40 hours per benefit year at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

As an alternative, an employer may frontload the full 40 hours at the beginning of the company’s designated benefit year.

Additionally, employers who have existing PTO, personal days, vacation days, and sick day policies may utilize them to meet the requirements set by the state paid sick leave law.

However, if doing so, employers must allow employees to use their paid sick leave time off as required by the state law.

The process for paid sick time accrual differs for temporary help services firms who place an employee with a client company. In this scenario, paid sick leave will accrue by total time worked on assignment with the temporary help firm.

The law also lays out how employees can use their paid sick time. It’s important to note that employees must wait to use their paid sick time until after their 120th day of employment.

Once this is met, employees can use paid sick time for these reasons:
  • The diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from a mental or physical illness (preventive medical care included)
  • Caring for a covered family member during the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from mental or physical illness (preventative medical care included)
  • Recovering from domestic or sexual violence (either an employee or an employee’s family member)
  • The closing of an employee’s workplace due to a public health emergency
  • The closing of a school of an employee’s child due to a public health emergency
  • Attending school conferences or meetings that are either requested or required to discuss a child’s health condition or disability

New Jersey Employers Must Prepare Now for the New Law

Even though the law doesn’t take effect until October, employers in New Jersey should start preparing now to ensure compliance.

As mentioned earlier, employers could face penalties for failing to comply with the new paid sick leave law once it takes effect.

Employees will be able to sue their employer if they violate the law and can seek damages as well as liquidation damages.

There is also an anti-retaliation provision in the law that makes it illegal to retaliate against workers who use their earned time off. An employer who takes retaliatory actions against an employee who uses their paid sick time in accordance with the law could face additional penalties and lawsuits.

If needed, employers in New Jersey can seek assistance from HR compliance experts to help prepare for the law and ensure compliance when it goes into effect.

Now is the time for employers to start planning for the new paid sick leave law to ensure they are fully ready come October.

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