correct size blogOn Wednesday Governor Murphy signed A-1827, which requires employers to provide earned sick leave to employees they employ in New Jersey. The bill does provide an exemption for Civil Service municipalities.

All employers, including local governments, will be required to provide employees with one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked at the same rate of pay, and with the same benefits as the employee normally earns. An employer is in compliance with this mandate if the offer paid time off, which is fully paid, that includes personal days, vacation days and sick days. Nothing in the law prohibits the employee and employer from mutually agreeing to permit the employee to choose to work additional hours during the same pay period in lieu of sick leave.

The employer has the discretion to choose the increments in which its employees may use the earned sick leave, provided that the largest increment of sick leave is the same that the employee would be required to work for that shift. An employer has the discretion to provide the full complement of earned sick leave for a benefit year on the first day of each benefit year. The employer also has the discretion to permit the accrual of sick leave.

Under the law, an employee may use earned sick leave:

  1. For diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery related to the employee’s mental or physical illness or preventive medical care;
  2. To care for a family member during diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery related to a family member’s mental or physical illness or preventive care;
  3. For certain absences resulting from the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic or sexual violence;
  4. For time during which the employee is not able to work because of a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee, in connection with a public health emergency or a determination that the presence of the employee or child in the community would jeopardize the health of others; or
  5. To attend school-related conferences, meetings, or events, or to attend other meetings regarding care for the employee’s child.

Please note that the law defines a child and parent as the biological, adopted (ive), foster, step or legal ward/guardian of the employee, domestic partner or civil union partner of the employee.  Family member is defined as child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent or grandparent of an employee or a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner of a parent or grandparent of the employee, or a 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 employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

An employer is permitted to require reasonable documentation if the leave is for three or more consecutive days. If the sick leave is foreseeable, an employer may require advance notice, not to exceed seven (7) calendar days prior to the beginning of the leave, of the intention to use and the expected duration. If the leave is unforeseeable, the employer may require an employee to provide notice as soon as practicable. Employers may prohibit employees from using foreseeable earned sick leave on certain dates and require reasonable documentation if employees use sick leave that is not foreseeable during those dates.

An employer may offer payment to an employee for unused earned sick leave in the final month of the benefit year. The employee has ten (10) calendar days from the date of offer to either accept or decline the payment. If the employee accepts the full payment, the employer must make the entire accrual for the following year available to that employee at the beginning of that year. If the employee declines a payment for unused earned sick leave or agrees to a partial payment, the employee may have the unused leave carried forward to the following year.

The law prohibits retaliatory actions against an employee for the use or requested use of earned sick leave or for filing a complaint for an employer violation of the provisions of this bill. There is a rebuttable presumption of an unlawful retaliatory personnel action under this law whenever an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee files a complaint or court action, cooperates with a Labor Department investigation, informs any person of their rights under the law, or opposes any policy, practice, or act that is unlawful under this law.

Employees or their representatives may waive rights or benefits provided by this law during the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement. Employees who

Employers are required to retain records documenting hours worked by employees and earned sick leave taken by employees for a five-year period.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has been given rulemaking authority under this law. They are tasked to implement a multilingual outreach program to inform employees, parents, and persons under the care of health care providers about the availability of earned paid sick leave. Employers are required to provide notification, using the forms provided by the Labor Department, to advise employees of their rights. The employer must provide each employee with a written copy of the notification within 30 days of issuance, at the time of hiring, or anytime requested by the employee.

In addition, after October 29 counties and municipalities are prohibited from adopting new requirements regarding earned sick leave, and the provisions of the bill preempt existing local requirements.

This new law takes effect on October 29, 2018, except for employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement. The effective date for those employees will be at expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. We suggest you review your existing policies and the new law with your labor attorney and administrator.

Contact: Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njslom.org, 609-695-3481 x120.