BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: New Jersey’s mandatory sick leave law is in the news again. Has the law changed?
Answer: On January 6, 2020 New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued the final regulations on the state’s Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL).
These rules include additional guidance for employers. Here are some highlights.
Establishing a “benefit year”
Previously, employers were required to set the same benefit year for all employees. The DOL will remove that language so that an employer may establish multiple benefit years, including anniversary year. However, in order to change benefit years, employers must still write to the DOL for approval.
Bundled PTO policies
The final rules strongly caution employers trying to satisfy the ESLL requirement with a single PTO bucket of different types of paid time off. The DOL advises against combining all time off (vacation, personal, sick) into one policy, because the requirements and protections under the ESLL would apply to the entire PTO bank. With a bundled policy, all PTO hours would have to meet all of the requirements of the ESLL (accrual/advancement, payout/carryover, payment) and be able to be used for all the acceptable reasons covered within the law.
Acceptable reasons to use earned sick leave
Employees may use earned sick leave for a number of reasons beyond “sickness.” The final regulations clarify that “school-related conferences, meetings, or events” can include non-educational events such as sports, plays, recitals, parties, etc. if parental attendance is requested by a school staff member responsible for the child’s education.
ESLL allows employers to prohibit “foreseeable” leave during “verifiable high volume periods.” However, the DOL declined to set a maximum total number of days per benefit year that an employer may designate as “blackout dates,” leaving it up for interpretation for now.
To find out more about what the DOL addressed in the ESLL final rules, and what amendments are coming in the future, be sure to download our on-demand webinar: New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law Final Regulations.
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DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.