New Jersey is one of the leaders in the nation requiring employers to offer sick time. As we have seen with the recent coronavirus pandemic, sick time is critical to the security of our communities and the nation as a whole. Without sick time, workers feel compelled to come into work even when they feel poorly, where they can infect other people. This damages the company’s productivity and morale, while endangering the entire community.
Many workers are unaware of the state’s sick leave law, however, which was passed in 2018. Below, we hit the highlights of what you need to know.
Accrual of Sick Time
N.J.S.A. 34:11D-2 states that employees shall accrue at least 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked for their employer. Employers also have the option of providing a full years’ worth of sick leave on the start of the benefit year.
Employers are not required to allow employees to accrue or carry over more than 40 hours of sick leave. Of course, employers have the option of allowing employees to accrue more than this.
Payment of Sick Time
Employers must pay the employee for their earned sick leave at the same rate of pay as the employee normally earns. In any event, it cannot be less than the minimum wage required.
Permitted Uses of Sick Time
N.J.S.A. 34:11D-3 identifies when an employee may use their sick leave, such as for the following:
- Time for diagnosis, treatment, care, or recovery from a medical condition or injury, or for preventive medical care
- To care for a family member during diagnosis, treatment, care, or recovery from a medical condition or injury, or for preventive care
- Time off due to the employee or a family member experiencing sexual or domestic violence
- Time off due to the closure of the workplace or a child’s school during an epidemic or public health emergency
- Time needed to attend school meetings or conferences
If an employee’s needs are foreseeable, then the employer can require up to 7-day advance notice of the intention to use sick leave. We encourage employees to familiarize themselves with their employee manual.
Employers Cannot Retaliate or Discriminate
Many businesses fought the new law, annoyed that they would have to provide paid leave. However, the law prohibits them from retaliating or discriminating against an employee for either requesting leave or taking it.
Employers also cannot retaliate against any employee who files a complaint against the employer for violating these laws. Employers also cannot consider any leave to be “absences” when deciding whether to discipline, demote, suspend, or reduce the pay of an employee.
Protect Your Right to Paid Sick Leave in New Jersey
New Jersey’s law also empowers workers to file a lawsuit when an employer violates the sick leave law. At our firm, we can advise you about your remedies under the law, which can include actual and liquidated damages, among other relief.
If you need help protecting your rights, contact Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today. We offer a confidential consultation to those who call us.