Here's what small businesses need to know.
New Jersey’s new paid sick leave mandate goes into effect on October 29. This new law covers employers of all sizes, even those with one or two employees. It is important that all employers update their existing sick leave policies. It should be noted that what constitutes a family member under this law is a departure from what many employers have traditionally described as such. Current policies should be modified to include anyone whose close association with an employee could be considered the equivalent of a family relationship. For those that do not currently have a sick leave program, they should be sure to create a policy that meets the minimum requirements.
Here is an overview of the new law:
Accrual, Carryover, and Payout
Employers must provide up to 40 hours per year for covered employees. Any period of 12 consecutive months can be defined as a “benefit year.” Covered employees are defined as employees working “for compensation” and excludes employees in the construction industry employed under a collective bargaining agreement, per diem healthcare employees, and public employees provided sick leave pursuant to any other law, rule or regulation in New Jersey.
An employer may either give an upfront allocation of 40 hours of paid sick leave time or can choose to award paid sick leave on an accrual basis. Under the later approach, the employees accrues 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, and is entitled to use accrued leave after working 120 days. Employee sick leave does not accumulate beyond 40 hours in a one-year period. An employee may carry over unused time from one year to the next if accrued time does not exceed 40 hours.
An optional buyout of unused accrued sick time in the final month of the benefit year is permitted. If an employee is employed by a successor employer or transferred to a separate division, the employee will retain accrued sick time. An employee will not retain accrued sick time upon separation of employment unless there is a collective bargaining agreement in place. If a separated employee is reinstated within six months, an employee’s sick time must be reinstated.
How Can Leave Be Used
- Diagnosis, care, treatment or recovery from an employee’s own health needs or that of a family member. A family member is defined in the law as a “child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent, or grandparent or another individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”
- Matters surrounding an employee or family member of employee’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence, including medical attention, counseling, relocation or legal services
- Closure of the employee’s workplace, school, or childcare due to a public health emergency
- Circumstances surrounding a child’s school-related conference, meeting, function or event to discuss a child’s health condition or disability
Employers are not permitted to require an employee to find a replacement to cover the employee’s absence. Employers are permitted to require “reasonable documentation” for three or more days of consecutive absences. Documentation is dependent upon the type of absence. Employers may require notice and documentation for foreseeable absences or unforeseeable absences as soon as practical.
Employers must post a notification of employees’ rights and provide a written copy within 30 days after the department has issued a notice when the employee is hired or requests a notice. Employers must now keep track of hours worked and benefit hours earned and keep these records for five years.
Non-compliance with the new law will be addressed in upcoming regulations.
Please remember that this NFIB Alert does not constitute legal advice and that you should consider consulting an attorney about any additional laws and regulations that are applicable in your state, locality or a particular type of business.