May 09, 2018 | Posted in:

Prepare for Paid Sick Leave: 5 Things New Jersey Employers Need to Do

On May 2, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a statewide Paid Sick Leave Bill into law, making New Jersey the 10th state to mandate paid sick leave.

NJ Paid Sick Leave: The Basics

Beginning October 29, 2018, all private New Jersey businesses are required to give workers one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, with an annual cap of 40 hours.
The paid leave may be used for:

  • Diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and preventative medical care for personal illnesses or injuries
  • Care for an ill or injured family member
  • Attend a weekday school obligation related to an employee’s child (school conferences, functions or activities)
  • Circumstances arising from a public health emergency or epidemic
  • To obtain services if the employee or family member is a victim of domestic or sexual abuse

Family members are defined as children, grandchildren, siblings, spouse/civil union partner, parents, grandparents, spouse’s siblings and/or parents, or any blood relative. Parents are considered biological, adoptive, foster, step parent, or legal guardian. New employees can request to use their earned time off after 120 days of employment (maximum). Foreseeable leave requests must be given with up to seven days notice and abide by any blackout dates set by the employer.


What Employers Need to Do

All sizes of private businesses must comply with the new state law. There is no exception for small employers based on number of employees. However, the new law should only be a major adjustment for those who do not have paid leave policies already in place that satisfy the requirements of the law, which is about one-third of New Jersey’s workforce.

Employers do have options in customizing their paid leave policy parameters, (i.e. black out dates, lowering the 120 days threshold, etc.), however, businesses are prohibited from making leave accessible only under certain conditions, discriminating against employees, or taking adverse or retaliatory action against those who request or use paid leave. This includes demotion, suspension, refusing a promotion, reduction of hours, unfavorable assignments, or denial of any right guaranteed under this act.

Employers have the next six months to prepare:

  1. Review and adjust. Evaluate your current HR plan and time-off policies and compare them to the new law. Amend accordingly. If you do not offer paid leave, compose and communicate a new policy before October. Your policies must also be compliant with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  2. Inform. Post information on New Jersey’s paid sick leave law within your workforce so employees are aware of their rights.
  3. Prepare logistics. Talk to your payroll specialist or HR department to make sure you have an accurate, user-friendly PTO tracking system in place and are meeting recordkeeping requirements.
  4. Know and protect. To minimize litigation risk and exposure, ensure all management and supervisory personnel are aware of what is prohibited when it comes to the new law, including denying compliant requests and taking retaliatory actions as a result of leave.
  5. Communicate. If you’re adjusting your leave policy or introducing one, update your Employee Handbook to reflect your new PTO policies, how you will address unused sick leave upon termination, and clearly state the employees’ rights when it comes to NJ paid sick leave.

Note: Before the state law was signed, 13 New Jersey municipalities had implemented paid sick leave ordinances, including Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, New Brunswick, and Montclair, among others. The new state law preempts local ordinances. In addition, the neighboring city of Philadelphia has also mandated Paid Sick Leave.

Abacus Payroll Infographic: NJ Paid Leave law

More Details

There are many minor and major elements set forth by the Bill that NJ employers must know about in order to be fully compliant, ranging from exceptions, carryover of unused time, buyout, rehiring employees within 6 months, termination, and recordkeeping requirements. Consult with an HR professional to prepare accordingly.

To see the full impact of NJ’s Paid Sick Leave on both employees and employers and view an infographic, read the entire article, “How New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Law Affects You,” presented by our affiliate company, Abacus Payroll Inc.

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