New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law is in Effect
New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law (“Earned Sick Leave Law”), requiring all employers with New Jersey employees to give sick time off to employees, went into effect yesterday, October 29, 2018.
Since the Earned Sick Leave Law’s passage this spring, the state has released proposed regulations, FAQs and a Notice that must be posted and distributed to all new employees upon hire and to all existing employees by November 29, 2018.
Employers are encouraged to review materials we have provided and ensure their businesses are compliant with the new law:
IMPORTANT DATES FOR EMPLOYERS
10/29/18: Effective date of the law and date employees must start accruing leave
11/29/18: Employers must distribute the Notice to current employees by this date
11/13/18: DOL hearing on the law
12/14/18: Deadline for comments to be submitted on the proposed regulations
2/26/19: First day current employees may use accrued sick time under the law
KEY QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY THE STATE FAQs
Employees who work in New Jersey and also other states are entitled to the full benefits of this law if they “routinely perform some work in New Jersey and the employee’s base of operations or the place from which such work is directed and controlled is in New Jersey.” (FAQs, Section II, #5). This includes telecommuters who work from home in New Jersey. (FAQs Section II, #7).
Employers may advance all sick time (also known as front-loading) to the beginning of the benefit year for use at any time in the benefit year. The FAQs explain that advanced sick time may be pro-rated for part-time employees or employees who commence employment mid-year, but employers who pro-rate must still track these employees’ time to ensure they have provided enough sick time. (FAQs, Section III, #7 and #8).
When employers advance all sick time at the beginning of a benefit year, carry over of unused sick time is still technically required, but the state has clarified “the employer is never required to permit the employee to use more than 40 hours of earned sick time in any benefit year.” (FAQs, Section VI, #6).
Employers may set up a general PTO bank, as long as employees are permitted to use at least 40 hours of PTO each benefit year for the permissible uses under the Earned Sick Leave Law. Employers do not have to separately record the accrual, use, payment or carry-over of leave taken for purposes covered under the Earned Sick Leave Law. (FAQs, Section VII, #2).
Employers can establish black-out dates and prohibit foreseeable sick time off during certain dates when there is either a (1) verifiable high volume of absences (e.g. Thanksgiving) or (2) special event (e.g. product release), which would disrupt business operations. (FAQs, Section IV, #18 and #19).