In 2018, we posted a blog regarding New Jersey’s sick leave policy. Since then, New Jersey has updated its Earned Sick Leave Law, providing further clarifications. This 53-page document outlines the new rules within the act and notes important clarifications.

But before we dive into these new rules, let’s touchback on New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law, passed Oct. 29, 2018.

New Jersey’s mandatory sick leave policy.

New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law requires employers to provide employees with accruable paid sick leave, to be used for specific illness and family-related reasons, and pertains to all employers with employees working in the state.

All employees including full-time, part-time and seasonal workers are covered. Employers may, however, disregard employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement. The law requires that, at a minimum, employers allow employees to accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked and accrue at least 40 hours of sick leave per year.

New Jersey Sick Leave Fast Facts:

Now that we’ve briefly discussed an overview of New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law, here are a few additional fast facts to note before we discuss the new rules and clarifications:

  • Employers can either make all sick leave hours available as of the first day of the year or require employees to accrue leave time as the year progresses.
  • Leave began to accrue on the effective date of Oct. 29, 2018 (or, for employees hired after the effective date, on their date of employment).
  • Employers must allow employees to utilize accrued sick leave hours beginning 120 calendar days after their date of employment. However, employers may agree to an earlier date.
  • The employer may require advance notice of time off, if possible, and reasonable documentation regarding the reason for the leave if the leave lasts three or more consecutive days.
  • At the end of the year, employers can pay employees for unused, accrued hours or allow employees to roll over their unused time.

What changed?

According to SHRM, the changes contained in the final regulations are minor and non-substantial requiring no further public notice or clarification. However, there is a modification worth noting:

New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) eliminated language regarding the employer’s obligation to set up a single benefit year (defined by New Jersey’s Legislature as “the period of 12 consecutive months established by an employer in which an employee shall accrue and use earned sick leave”) for all employees. The deletion of this language is important because it would have required employers to set the same benefit year for all employees, rather than permitting different benefit years based on an employee’s anniversary date.

The department noted that it would be proposing a new regulation in the future to allow employers to create multiple benefit years.

Additionally, these final rules do not impact the mechanisms in which an employer can adjust a benefit year. When the benefit year is determined, employers can adjust it if they provide written notice to New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development 30 days before they make the proposed adjustment. The written notice must include the following:

The NJDOL also responded to questions relating to the new Earned Sick Leave Law and its applicability to current paid time off (PTO) policies, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, the rate of pay for earned sick leave, and employees with expiring collective bargaining agreements.

What now?

Employers in New Jersey should review their sick-leave policies to ensure compliance with the law. If you want more details regarding more clarifications, please view New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave FAQs.

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