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New Jersey’s Sick Leave Law

love-3365338__340-300x191On May 2, 2018, New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy signed into law New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act.  This new Act requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time to covered employees each year (excluding most construction employees under a collective bargaining agreement and public employees who already have paid sick leave).  New Jersey is now the tenth state to enact such legislation.

In 2008 New Jersey enacted the Family Leave Act.  That law required employers to provide for up to six weeks of benefits to care for sick family members or newborn babies.  However, it does not cover the employee’s own individual sick time and only applied to employers with fifty or more employees.

In 2013, the State enacted the Security and Financial Empowerment (“SAFE”) Act which required employers to permit twenty days of unpaid leave without taking disciplinary action if the employee was a victim of domestic violence.

There is also a federal law: the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).  The FMLA covers both leave to care for seriously ill family members and leave for the employee’s own individual illness.  The FMLA provides up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year. The FMLA also only applies to employers with fifty or more employees.

New Jersey also has temporary disability insurance for injured or ill employees. However, under temporary disability insurance, the first seven days of the disability are not compensated unless the employee continues to be out for three consecutive weeks.

The new Paid Sick Leave Act in New Jersey is for all-size employers and provides for paid leave. It appears designed to assist in covering the gaps left by the other leave laws which exist in New Jersey.  The Paid Sick Leave Act covers both the employee’s own illness and an immediate family member’s illness. It also covers domestic violence situations, closure of the employee’s school, workplace, or childcare due to a public health emergency, and a child’s school-related conference.

Unused Paid Leave under the Act need not be paid out to the employee upon separation (unless the employer has an agreement or policy to the contrary).  The employer may require the employee to provide advanced notice (up to seven days) of the intention to use this paid sick time if the leave is anticipated or expected in advance.  However, if the leave is an emergency, the notice requirement is simply for the employee to advise the employer as soon as practicable. The employer may require the employee to provide documentation to confirm that the reason for the absence is a covered reason. While the employer may permit employees to carry-over unused time, the total remaining time under the Law may not exceed forty hours per year.

The attorneys at McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC are experienced with employment laws, particularly in relation to protections for employees, and can advise of both employers and employees on their rights about  legal requirements in New Jersey.  To learn more about what we may be able to do to help, please visit our website, or contact one of our New Jersey lawyers by e-mail or telephone at (973) 890-0004.