On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law A-1827, which requires employers to provide all of their full-time and part-time employees with paid sick leave or the equivalent amount of paid time off beginning October 29, 2018. Following is a summary of the requirements of the law:
- Each employee (full-time and part-time) must be provided one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.
- Paid sick leave can be granted as a lump sum at the beginning of the year or can be accrued by the employee, but would begin to accrue immediately as of the first day of employment (or the benefit year for current employees); however, the employee is not eligible to use the leave until 120 days after beginning employment.
- An employee may use this leave for an employee’s own illness or preventative medical care, for a family member’s illness or preventative medical care, for care needed for an employee or family member due to domestic or sexual violence, closure of an employee’s workplace or child’s school or daycare due to a public health emergency, or time needed by an employee to attend a child’s school related conference, meeting or function.
- Employers who offer paid time off are in compliance provided the paid time off is accrued at an equal or greater rate than required by this law.
- In the final month of the benefit year, an employer may provide an employee with an offer for a payment of unused sick leave. The offer may be for the full amount or for 50 percent of the amount of the unused leave. If the employee declines a full payment or accepts the 50 percent payment offer, then the remainder of the unused leave must be carried forward into the next benefit year.
- The maximum amount of earned sick leave that can be accrued and used in a benefit year, or carried forward into the next benefit year, is 40 hours.
- If an employee is terminated, laid off, furloughed or otherwise separated from employment with the employer, any unused accrued earned sick leave shall be reinstated upon the re-hiring or reinstatement of the employee to that employment within six months of termination, being laid off or furloughed, or separation; prior employment with the employer shall be counted towards meeting the eligibility requirements.
- This law preempts all previously enacted municipal ordinances requiring paid sick leave and, thus, creates one uniform law to be applied state-wide. Exempted from the law are per diem healthcare employees, construction workers employed pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, and public employees.
- An employer may require reasonable documentation that the leave is being taken for permissible purposes if an employee utilizes sick leave for three or more consecutive days.
- The employer is not prohibited from taking disciplinary action against an employee who uses sick leave for purposes that are not permissible.
- If an employee’s need to use paid sick leave is foreseeable, an employer may by policy require advance notice of not more than seven days of the employee’s intent to take leave and the expected duration. This law allows employers to prohibit by policy employees from using foreseeable sick leave on certain dates (e.g. busy season).
- An employer must retain records documenting hours worked and sick leave utilization for a period of five years.
- An employer is required to provide written notification of the paid sick leave law to each employee. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development will create and make available a notice that must be posted in the office, and given to every employee, each new hire going forward, and to any employee who requests the notice.
- An employer is prohibited from taking a retaliatory personnel action against an employee in connection with the employee’s request for or utilization of sick leave.
Employers are well-advised to review and update their sick time (or paid time off) policy and practices to ensure compliance come October. The employment attorneys at Connell Foley are available to assist in these efforts.