HR Management & Compliance

New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act Takes Effect October 29

New Jersey’s new Paid Sick Leave Act, which ensures employees get paid time off to care for their own or a family member’s illness or injury, is set to take effect on October 29.

Sick leave

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The law requires all private and public New Jersey employers, regardless of size, to offer paid sick leave. In addition to expanding how paid sick leave can be used, the new law preempts the 13 New Jersey municipalities that have their own local paid sick leave ordinances.

Uses of Leave

Permissible use of sick leave, which will accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours per benefit year, includes the following:

  • Diagnosis, care, treatment, recovery, and/or preventive care for the employee’s own mental or physical illness or injury or the employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Absence because of a public health emergency declared by a public official that causes the closure of the employee’s workplace or the school or childcare facility of the employee’s child or requires the employee or the employee’s family member to seek care;
  • A necessary absence for medical, legal, or other victim services because of domestic or sexual violence perpetrated on the employee or the employee’s family member; or
  • Attendance at school conferences, meetings, or any event requested or required by a child’s school administrator, teacher, or other professional staff member responsible for the child’s education or at a meeting regarding the child’s health or disability.

“Family member” is broadly defined in the law to include an employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent (including an adoptive parent, foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian), sibling (including foster or adoptive siblings), grandparent or grandchild, and the parent, grandparent, or sibling of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner. Also, an employee has the opportunity to use sick leave for the care of a nonrelated individual whose close association with him or her is the “equivalent” of a family relationship.

Compliance

The new law requires employers to maintain records documenting the hours employees work and the sick leave they have used. Records must be maintained for five years and must be made available for inspection by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL). If an employee claims the employer violated the law and the employer has failed to maintain adequate records, there is a presumption that it failed to provide paid sick leave.

Employers also must post a notification and distribute a written notification alerting employees of their rights within 30 days of the notice being issued by the NJDOL and provide the notification to all new employees at the time of hiring.

For more information on New Jersey’s new paid sick leave law, see the June issue of New Jersey Employment Law Letter.

Dina M. Mastellone and Katherine E. Stuart are attorneys with Genova Burns LLC in Newark, New Jersey. They can be reached at dmastellone@genovaburns.com and kstuart@genovaburns.com.