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Major Impacts of the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act

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New Jersey employers should be aware of a new law relating to paid sick leave. Governor Murphy signed The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act in May, and it becomes effective October 29, 2018.

Who is Affected and Who is Eligible?

  • Applies to nearly all employers and employees in New Jersey.
  • Guarantees almost every person employed in New Jersey will accrue paid sick leave.
  • Does not apply to union workers in the construction industry, per diem health care workers, or public employees who already receive sick pay.
  • Does not apply to New Jersey residents working outside of New Jersey.

Earning of Paid Sick Leave

  • Must be earned before being used.
  • Beginning 10/29/18 employees begin accruing hours that will count toward sick pay.
  • One hour of leave is earned for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 40 hours in a year.

Utilization of Paid Sick Leave

  • Paid Sick Leave can start to be used after 120 days.
  • Employees may carry over a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave into the following year.
  • Employers who already provide "paid time off" – used for vacation, holidays or whatever workers choose — do not have to create an additional sick leave policy.  
  • Employees must give advance notice when a time-off request is foreseeable. Unforeseeable requests must be made as soon as possible.
  • Employers may prohibit employees from using foreseeable sick time on select dates, such as major holidays.  If the request on these dates was not foreseeable, the employer may request a doctor’s note or other documentation to justify the request.

Eligible Uses of Earned Sick Days

  • An employees’ own health needs or that of a family member, defined in the law as a “child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent, or grandparent or any other individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
  • Issues resulting from an employee (or family member of employee) being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, including medical attention necessary for physical or psychological injury; obtaining services from a designated domestic violence agency or other victim services organization; relocation; or legal services, including participation in any related legal proceeding.
  • Closure of the employee's workplace, school or childcare due to a public health emergency.
  • A child's school-related conference, meeting, function or other event.

Employer Penalties

Employers convicted of knowingly and willfully violating the law or retaliating against workers who take sick days include:

  • First offense fines ranging from $100-$1000 or 10-90 days in jail.
  • Repeat offenders face fines ranging from $500-$1000 or 10-100 days in jail, or both.
  • Violators may face penalties each week an employee accrues time off.
  • The Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner may also levy fines of $250-$500.

Employee Notification

  • Employers in New Jersey must post a sign outlining workers' rights within 30 days of the law taking effect.
  • The poster will be available on the New Jersey Department of Labor’s website for downloading.

About the Author:

Theodore Westhelle Jr., CPA, is a tax director at Mazars USA LLP in Edison NJ. He is a member of the NJCPA and can be reached at theodore.westhelle@MazarsUSA.com.

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