NEW JERSEY PAID SICK LEAVE
On March 12, 2018, the State of New Jersey passed a comprehensive bill concerning paid sick leave for many New Jersey employees. That bill, which took effect on October 29, 2018, requires New Jersey employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, subject to some limitations. Pursuant to rules enacted by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, existing employees may begin utilizing paid sick leave effective February 26, 2019, or on the 120th calendar day following the employees’ commencement of employment. Certain exceptions apply to labor unions and bargaining unit members. This page is intended to provide an overview of the law, and how it affects Local 286 members.
SUMMARY OF THE BILL
Effective October 29, 2018, New Jersey employers will be required to provide at least 40 hours of front-loaded or accrued sick leave to each employee during each calendar year. Leave may be used to provide care for the mental or physical health conditions of an employee or his family, or for certain childcare or school-related circumstances.
WHO IS COVERED?
The law is intended to cover all New Jersey employees engaged in service to an employer for compensation. This does not include employees performing service in the construction industry under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), a per diem health care employee, or a public employee who is provided with sick leave with full pay pursuant to any other law, rule, or regulation of New Jersey.
CAN I RECEIVE PAID SICK LEAVE IF I AM COVERED BY A CBA?
With respect to employees covered by a CBA in effect at the time of the effective date of the act, no provision of the act shall apply until the stated expiration of the CBA. After the expiration of the CBA, your bargaining unit representatives will be permitted to negotiate a paid sick leave policy with the employer.
WHAT IS PROVIDED?
The law requires that each employer provide earned sick leave to each employee working for the employer in New Jersey. The employer will be permitted to choose between front-loading or accruing earned sick leave. If the employer chooses the accrual method, then for every 30 hours worked, the employee shall accrue one hour of earned sick leave. If the employer chooses the frontload method, the employer must provide all earned sick leave to its employees on the first day of its benefit year. Regardless of the method used, the employer will not be required to provide more than 40 hours of earned sick leave in any benefit year.
CAN I CARRY OVER UNUSED SICK LEAVE?
At the end of each calendar year, the employer must determine whether it will permit employees to carry over unused sick leave. If the employer does not permit its employees to carry over unused sick leave, the employer must pay the employee for all unused sick leave at the same rate of pay with the same benefits as the employee normally earns.
HOW MUCH SICK LEAVE WILL I BE REQUIRED TO USE?
The employer may choose the increments in which its employees may use earned sick leave. The largest increment of earned sick leave that an employee may be required to use for any particular shift or day will be the number of hours the employee was scheduled to work during that shift. An employer may opt to use smaller increments, such as an hour or a half-day.
UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN I USE EARNED SICK LEAVE?
An employer shall permit an employee to use the earned sick leave for any of the following:
· Care or preventative care related to an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or other adverse health condition;
· Care or preventative care for a family member of the employee related to that family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or other adverse health condition;
· Absence resulting from an employee or family member being a victim of sexual or domestic violence;
· Time an employee is not available to work due to a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee;
· Attendance at a school-related conference, meeting, function or other event related to the employees’ child and required by the school.
WHAT IS A FAMILY MEMBER?
The law provides a comprehensive definition of a family member. “Family member” means a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parents or grandparent of an employee; the sibling of a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner of the employee; or any other individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employees is the equivalent of a family member.
AM I REQUIRED TO PROVIDE NOTICE?
The law differs on notice requirements depending on whether the need to use leave is foreseeable or unforeseeable. If the need to use leave is foreseeable, the employer may require advanced notice up to seven days prior to the date the leave is to begin. If the reason for the leave is not foreseeable, an employer may require an employee to give notice as soon as practicable, if the employer has notified the employee of this requirement.
CAN I USE LEAVE ON ANY DATE?
The employer may prohibit employees from using foreseeable leave on certain “blackout dates” and require reasonable documentation if unforeseeable sick leave is used on those dates.
WHEN MUST I PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION?
An employee may be required to provide documentation when using unforeseeable leave during a blackout date. Additionally, an employer may require an employee to provide documentation for earned sick leave of three or more consecutive days.
HOW DOES EARNED SICK LEAVE AFFECT FMLA OR NJFLA?
An employer cannot require an employee to use earned sick leave. If the earned sick leave also qualifies for unpaid FMLA/NJFLA or NJSAFE Act leave, employees may choose to use available earned sick leave and will be paid.
WHERE CAN I READ THE ACT?
The most recent text of the act can be found on the New Jersey Legislature’s website at: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A2000/1827_R1.PDF