New Jersey Passes Statewide Paid Sick Leave Law, Supplanting Local Sick Leave Laws

New Jersey is now among a handful of states in the country with mandatory paid sick leave for employees. On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that requires public and private employers in New Jersey, regardless of size, to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per benefit year. The only exemptions include construction employees bound by collective bargaining agreements, per diem health care employees and public employees who already have sick leave benefits.

The new law is effective as of October 29, 2018, and preempts all local paid sick leave ordinances, which have been adopted by 13 municipalities in the state. Employers may use existing paid time off policies to satisfy their obligations under the new law, so long as such policies meet the law’s minimum requirements.

Under the law, employees accrue sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, beginning on the later of the effective date of the law or the date the employee’s employment begins. Up to 40 hours of accrued time may be carried over to a subsequent calendar year. Employees are entitled to begin using accrued leave on the 120th day after the start of their employment.

Employees may use paid sick time for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s own health condition or that of a family member and to deal with situations in connection to an employee or family member’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence. The law broadly defines “family member” to include “any individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

The law sets forth a framework for employers that wish to require advance notice and documentation from employees, establish a minimum increment for using sick time, frontload sick time to employees at the beginning of the benefit year in lieu of the accrual process and pay for unused sick time at the end of the benefit year or upon termination of employment.

Employers should take note of the law’s recordkeeping and notice requirements and the prohibition against taking adverse action against employees for requesting or using paid sick leave, filing a complaint alleging the employer’s violation of any provision of this law or informing any other person of their rights under the law.

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