This article was updated on February 18, 2020.
The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL) went into effect on October 29, 2018 requiring New Jersey employers of all sizes to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to covered employees. This law left employers with questions; many of which were answered when New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued final regulations on January 6, 2020.
What you need to know:
- The act requires employers to designate any period of 12 consecutive months (such as calendar, fiscal, or anniversary year) as a “benefit year.” In each benefit year, an employee will accrue up to 40 hours of sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Alternatively, an employer may “frontload” the full 40 hours at the beginning of the benefit year.
- Current employees started accruing time off as of October 29, 2018. New hires must begin accruing time off as soon as they start working and can begin using accrued time no later than 120 days after their date of hire.
- 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.
- The Act’s broadly defined “family member” and long list of reasons for an employee to call out sick (including preventative medical care, care for a family member, result of domestic violence, or to attend their child’s school-related conference, meeting, or event) makes it difficult for an employer to object to any sick time request.
- Employers may prohibit “foreseeable” leave during “verifiable high-volume periods.”
Learn more by accessing our on-demand webinar: New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law Final Regulations.
How will the law be enforced?
Employees can make an anonymous Department of Labor complaint or may sue their employers for violations and can seek actual damages suffered as a result of the violation, plus an equal amount of liquidated damages. An anti- retaliation provision includes a rebuttable presumption that a negative employment action (like a demotion) is retaliation if it is taken or threatened with 90 days of the employee engaging in activity protected under the act.
How can you ensure compliance?
Review policy and update your Employee Handbook. You should review your sick paid time off policies, and procedures for requesting time off, then revise your employee handbook accordingly. Additionally, you should train your managers and supervisors on the law. BPHR, Balance Point’s high-touch HR consulting service can assist with these tasks. We are the compliance experts and can guide you in your organization’s adherence to the law.
Use a time tracking tool – The law requires employers to keep records of time accrued, and time used, for five years, along with “clear and convincing” documentation. If you are relying on manual processes to track employee time, you are putting your organization at risk. With its robust time and attendance platform, Balance Point’s human capital management (HCM) system can effectively and efficiently calculate sick time accrual while satisfying the record-keeping requirement.