Now Law: Earned Sick Leave

Assembly Majority Office - 5/2/2018

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji, Shavonda Sumter, Benjie Wimberley and Paul Moriarty sponsored to require employers to provide earned sick leave to workers in New Jersey was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday. The law (A-1827) will allow workers to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

"Earned sick leave is a sensible workplace policy that is good for business and will prove crucial to New Jersey's economic future, stability and strength," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "Workers who can properly take care of themselves and their families will feel secure in their jobs and be better employees. In addition to improving morale and reducing the spread of illness in the workplace, this legislation will also help employers with compliance and predictability."

An estimated 1.1 million New Jerseyans are unable to earn sick leave, with nearly one-quarter of American adults reporting they've lost a job or been threatened with job loss for taking time off due to illness or to care for a sick child or relative, noted the sponsors.

The law will require each employer to provide earned sick leave to each employee it employs in the state. The employee accrues one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Unless the employee accrued earned sick leave prior to the effective date of this act, the leave accrues beginning on the effective date if the employee was hired prior to that time and the employee shall be able to use the leave time beginning on the 120th day after his/her hire. For employees hired after the effective date of this act, the earned sick leave shall begin to accrue upon the date of hire and the employee shall be eligible to use the time beginning on the 90th day after hiring.

The employer is required to pay the employee for earned sick leave at the same rate with the same benefits as the employee normally earns.
Earned sick leave may be used for:

· 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 care for a family member during diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member's mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or preventive medical care for the family member;
· Absence needed due to circumstances resulting from the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic violence, if the leave is to obtain medical attention, counseling, relocation, legal or other 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 as a result of a determination that the presence in the community of the employee, or a member of the employee's family in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others, or;
· Time needed by the employee in connection with a child of the employee to attend a school related conference, meeting, function, or other event or required by a school professional staff member.

The law prohibits retaliatory personnel actions against an employee for the use or requested use of earned sick leave or for filing of a complaint for an employer violation.

This law will also create statewide uniform floor or mandated earned sick leave. Employers would still be able to offer, and employees would still be able to collectively bargain for, more generous benefits.