New Jersey has become the 10th state to require employers to provide paid sick leave for workers. According to New Jersey Gov. Murphy, who recently signed the Earned Sick and Safe Days Act, “New Jersey joins nine states and the District of Columbia in providing paid sick leave. We are continuing to prove that economic progress cannot be made without social progress.” The law is set to go into effect on October 30, 2018, or upon the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) currently in effect for unionized workers, whichever is later. The law prohibits New Jersey municipalities from enacting their own ordinances concerning paid sick leave, thereby coordinating sick leave requirements across the State.
The new law applies to both public and private employers in the State, with the exception of construction industry employees under contract pursuant to a CBA, per diem hospital employees, and public employees who are provided sick leave with full pay pursuant to another State law, rule, or regulation.
Covered employees earn one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every thirty (30) hours they work, with an annual cap of forty (40) hours. Nothing in the law prevents other State laws or regulations from providing greater benefits, and employers can provide greater benefits via a CBA or employer policy. However, unions should take caution that the law allows employees represented by a union to waive their rights under the law during contract negotiations.
Employees are limited in how they may use the accrued sick time which includes, but is not limited to, the employee’s recovering from illness, caring for a sick family member, obtaining services due to suffering acts of domestic violence, and caring for a child after closure of the employee’s workplace or the child’s place of child care due to public health emergency. Employees may be disciplined for using the time for other reasons not enumerated in the statute.
If an employer provides employees with paid time off, including personal days, vacation days, and sick days, up to or beyond the amount required by the statute, the employer will be deemed to be in compliance with the law. Employers are required to retain records documenting an employee’s hours worked and sick leave earned and taken, and employees may not be retaliated against for using sick leave earned under this statute. Employers must also provide employees with notice of their rights under the law.