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New Jersey Law Will Require Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave

May 4, 2018

On May 2, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the New Jersey Earned Sick and Safe Days Act, which requires all New Jersey employers to provide earned sick leave to all employees. The law will take effect on October 30, 2018.

Key Elements of the NJ Earned Sick and Safe Days Act

The new law, which preempts local sick leave ordinances that are currently in effect in 13 municipalities within New Jersey, will now require all employers in the state to provide paid sick leave to each employee at the same rate of pay as the employee normally earns. The only exceptions to this coverage are employees in the construction industry performing services pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, and per diem health care employees.

Under the law, employees will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum cap of 40 accrued hours per year.  Employees may begin using accrued sick leave after they have completed 120 days of work for the employer.  However, employers are permitted to allow employees to use earned leave at an earlier time if they choose to do so.

Earned sick leave under the law may be used for the following purposes:

  • For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or other adverse health condition, or for preventive medical care for the employee;
  • To aid or care for an employee’s family member during the diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or other adverse health condition, or during preventive medical care for the family member;
  • Absence due to circumstances resulting from an act of domestic or sexual violence against the employee or the employee’s family member, if such leave is to obtain: medical attention; services from a domestic violence agency or victim services organization; counseling; relocation; or legal services;
  • Absence resulting from the closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child, due to an epidemic or other public health emergency, or due to a determination by a public health agency that the presence in the community by the employee or the employee’s family member would jeopardize the health of others; or
  • To attend school-related conferences, meetings, or events related to the employee’s child, or to attend a meeting regarding care provided to the employee’s child in connection with the child’s health condition or disability.

Employers may require employees to provide reasonable advance notice (up to seven days) for the use of sick leave under the law. However, if the need for leave is unforeseeable, employees may provide notice as soon as practicable.

In addition to the requirement to provide paid sick leave as outlined above, employers are also required to maintain records documenting the hours worked and earned sick leave taken by each employee for a period of five years. The law will be enforced by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and includes a private right of action to pursue an award for damages.

Advice for New Jersey Employers

Prior to its expected effective date of October 30, 2018, employers in New Jersey should prepare by reviewing their current leave policies to confirm compliance with the requirements of the new law.  If their existing policies do not provide the same or greater protections to employees as provided for in the new law, employers are required to institute a paid sick leave policy that fully complies with the law’s provisions.  Employers should also review their current recordkeeping procedures to ensure compliance with the new law.  As with any change or amendment in law, employers should consult with their employment counsel to review the impact of the Earned Sick and Safe Days Act on their current policies and practices.

For information on the New Jersey Earned Sick and Safe Days Act and how it might affect your business, contact: