All temporary, full-time, and part-time employees may use the full extent of the paid sick time as long as they are able to earn it. However, the following employees may only use the paid sick leave if their employers choose to provide it:
- Employees in the construction industry, unless they are not under a union contract
- Per diem healthcare employees
- Public employees with other fully paid sick leave under a New Jersey law
- Federal employees
- Freelancers or contractual workers who are not defined as official “employees” under any New Jersey law
Keep in mind that the New Jersey sick leave law supersedes any sick leave benefit provided by an employer unless the benefits and requirements of the employer’s policy exceed that of the law.
All employers, regardless of the size of the workforce, are required to have a sick leave program for their employees. However, employers with employees belonging to the list we’ve mentioned above are not required to do so and may forgo the law if they want.
Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
For every 30 hours worked, employees may earn an hour of paid sick time. The maximum limitation of this law is 40 hours of paid sick time per year. On the other hand, employers may also choose the frontload sick leave accrual basis.
This means an employee is granted the full 40 hours of paid sick time at the beginning of the company’s benefit year. Alternatively, employers may choose but are not required to allow their employees to make up for the hours they lost while on leave rather than reducing them from the accrued sick time.
Employees must be paid in the same or the following pay period, and the payment must be incorporated in the paycheck. That said, employers may also use any other method as long as the payment can be deposited or cashed at the employee’s convenience.
Carry Over from Year to Year
Any unused sick time may be carried over to the following benefit year. However, an employee may only have a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave for the year unless the employer states otherwise.
The definition of the benefit year by which the employee may earn the frontloaded paid sick leave or may start accruing the same is to be established by the employer.
If the employer chooses to change the policy’s benefit year, a written notice must be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner 30 days before the change is to be implemented.
The revision of the benefit year must also be updated in the employee handbooks.
A covered employee may use the New Jersey sick leave law for the following purposes:
- The employee is scheduled for COVID-19 vaccination
- The employee is recovering from the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination
- The employee is in quarantine upon the advice of a public official, a public health authority, or other medical personnel
- The employee is to be tested for COVID-19
- The employee is to take care of his or her children because of the school’s closure due to a public health emergency (e.g., COVID-19, epidemic, pandemic)
- The employee is to take care of a family member suffering from a mental and/or physical illness or health condition (including COVID-19)
- The employee or a covered family member is in need of medical care
- The employee or a covered family member is a victim of domestic and/or sexual violence
- The employee is scheduled to attend his or her child’s school-related meeting, event, or school conference
Family Member Defined
The New Jersey sick leave law defines a “family member” as any of the following:
- Domestic or civil union partner
- Child (biological, stepchild, foster child, adopted, legal ward, or a domestic partner’s or civil union partner’s child)
- Mother-in-law or father-in-law
- Brother-in-law or sister-in-law
- Chosen family
- Any other relative by blood
- Any other person whose relationship with the employee is equal to that of a family member
Payment for Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Upon Separation from Employment
An employer may choose to pay for the unused sick time by the end of the benefit year or upon the termination of employment. However, the law does not require them to.
A rehired employee, as long as the termination or layoff didn’t last for more than six months, must be reinstated with the unused accrued sick leaves that the employee left with.
All the accrued sick time of all employees shall remain if the predecessor employer is replaced by a successor employer.
Alternative Eligible Leave Policies
In addition to the New Jersey sick leave law, here are alternative eligible leave policies in the state.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The FMLA is a federal law allowing employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a serious health condition or up to 26 weeks of leave for military reasons.
New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act is a state law allowing employees to take an additional leave time of 12 weeks every two years of employment to take care of a family member suffering from a serious health condition.
Eligible employees can also take this leave to take care of a new child within one year of his or her birth or adoption.
Victim of Crime Leave
In the NJ SAFE or New Jersey Security And Financial Empowerment Act, employees may use up to 20 days of unpaid leave if he/she or an immediate family member is a victim of domestic and/or sexual violence.
Employer Notice Requirements
Employers must guarantee the notification of employees regarding all the details of the New Jersey sick leave policy. As an obligation to employees, the notice in writing shall be available to the employees in English and their primary languages, which could be any of the following:
- Haitian Creole
Any reasonable documentation relating to the use of the paid sick leave, which may include the hours worked by the employee, earned amount of sick leave, carry over, and payout, must be kept by the employer for at least five years.
Also, the employee’s reason for the leave must not be disclosed to anyone unless otherwise stated in the employee’s written permission. All of these documents must be readily available upon the request of the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development.