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September 27, 2018 | Posted in:

One Month Until Paid Sick Leave in NJ: Is Your Business Ready?

Earlier this year, New Jersey became the 10th state in the nation to enact paid sick leave legislation. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act was signed into law on May 2, 2018 by Gov. Phil Murphy and will go into effect on October 29, 2018. Once effective, it will require New Jersey employers of all sizes to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to covered employees.

Current employees, under the act, will accrue up to 40 hours of sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked during consecutive 12-month period work. Employers with existing paid time off (PTO), personal days, vacation days and sick-day policies may utilize those policies to satisfy the requirements of the act as long as employees can use the time off as required by the act.

What’s Covered Under NJ’s Paid Sick Leave Law

Employers are not required to permit employees to use more than 40 hours of sick leave in a benefit year. Employees can use accrued sick time after the 120th day of their first date of employment for the following reasons:

  • Diagnosis, care or treatment of—or recovery from—an employee’s own mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care.
  • Aid or care for a covered family member during diagnosis, care or treatment of—or recovery from—the family member’s mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care.
  • Circumstances related to an employee’s or their family member’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence (including the need to obtain related medical treatment, seek counseling, relocate or participate in related legal services).
  • Closure of an employee’s workplace or of a school/childcare of an employee’s child because of a public official’s order relating to a public health emergency.
  • Time to attend a meeting requested or required by school staff to discuss a child’s health condition or disability.

The act broadly defines “family member” to include individuals related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Important Details Employers Shouldn’t Ignore

Employers may not require an employee to find a replacement to cover the employee’s absence.

Employers may, but are not obligated to, offer to pay employees for their unused accrued sick time in the final month of the benefit year. If employees agree to receive the payment, they may choose a payment for the full amount of their unused accrued sick time or for 50 percent of such time.

The payment amount shall be based on the same rate of pay that the employee earns at the time of the payment. If an employer frontloads the entire amount of sick time, it must either pay the employee for the full amount of unused accrued sick time in the final month of the employer’s benefit year or carry forward any unused sick time to the next benefit year. Employee approval is not required.

The act provides employers with the discretion to choose the increments in which its employees may use accrued sick time. However, the largest increment chosen may not be larger than the number of hours an employee was scheduled to work in a given shift. For example, if an employee is scheduled to work a 7-hour shift, the employer cannot mandate that the employee use paid sick time in increments of eight hours.

The anti-retaliation provision of the act includes a rebuttable presumption that an employer’s actions are unlawful if it takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in activity protected under the act. This includes such actions as filing a complaint with the department, cooperating with an investigation, opposing policies and practices that are unlawful under the act, or informing other individuals of their rights under the act.

Employers may require “reasonable documentation” for absences of three or more days. Documentation depends on the type of absence and is spelled out in the law.

There are a few categories of workers not covered by the law. It does not include employees in a collective bargaining agreement in the construction industry, per diem health care workers, or public employees provided sick leave pursuant to any other law, rule, or regulation in New Jersey.

Next Steps for Business Owners

In anticipation of the effective date of this new law, you should review your paid time off, vacation or other paid leave policies to determine whether you will have to implement a paid-sick-time policy for any of your employees or amend your existing policies to ensure compliance with the act. You should also inform managers and supervisors of any new policy changes and of the importance of the provisions of the law prohibiting retaliation.

See Also – Prepare for Paid Sick Leave: 5 Things New Jersey Employers Need to Do→

 

Author: Valentina Efremova

 

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