On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that requires mandatory paid sick leave for employees in the State of New Jersey. The law goes into effect on October 29, 2018 (180 days after the law was signed by Governor Murphy).  The law applies to all private businesses who employ individuals in the State of New Jersey.

Under the law, sick leave begins to accrue on the effective date of the law or the employee’s hiring date, whichever is later.  Employees may accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.  Employers are not required to permit employees to accrue more than 40 leave hours in a benefit year, which is a 12-month consecutive period during which an employee may accrue and use earned sick leave.  Accrued, unused sick leave must carry-over to the next year (however, an employee cannot accrue and carry-over more than 40 hours in a benefit year), unless the employer offers and the employee chooses to accept compensation for accrued, unused leave at the end of the benefit year.  As an alternative, the employer may choose to “frontload” employees with one full year of 40 hours of paid sick leave on the first day of the benefit year.  If employers choose to “frontload,” they must pay employees compensation for said accrued, unused leave at the end of the benefit year or permit employees to carry over accrued, unused leave to the next benefit year.

Employees may use earned sick leave beginning 120 days after their employment commences for the following:  time needed for diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or for preventive medical care for the employee; time needed for the employee to aid or care for a family member of the employee during diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or during preventive medical care for the family member; absence necessary due to circumstances resulting from the employee, or a family member of the employee, being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, if the leave is to allow the employee to obtain for the employee or the family member: medical attention, services from a designated domestic violence agency or other victim services organization, psychological or other counseling, relocation, or legal services; 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, by order of a public official, or because of the issuance by a public health authority; or time needed by the employee to attend a school-related function regarding the employee’s child or required by a school responsible for the child’s education, or to attend a meeting regarding care for the child’s health conditions or disability.

Employers may require seven days of advance notice if the use of the leave is reasonably foreseeable.  Otherwise, employees must give notice as soon as practicable.  Employers must post a notice developed by the New Jersey Department of Labor informing employees of their rights under the law, and must give employees a copy of the notice within 30 days of when the notice is drafted by the New Jersey Department of Labor.  Employers are required to maintain records pertaining to hours worked and sick leave taken for a period of five years under the law.  The law also has stringent anti-retaliation provisions, which protect employees who request or use earned sick leave.

This law has significant ramifications for employers (particularly, small businesses) given the increase in the number of employees who will be eligible for paid sick leave in the State of New Jersey.  Indeed, employers should review their existing paid time off or sick leave policies for compliance with this law and/or develop paid time off or sick leave policies to comply with this law.  In addition, this law is a significant victory for New Jersey employees, who continue to be afforded additional protections in the workplace.

If you have any questions about this law or leaves of absence in the workplace, please contact the Law Office of Frank A. Custode, LLC.