This post was written by Jennifer Fischer and Mark A. Konkel and originally posted on Kelley Drye’s Labor Days Blog.

On March 26th, the New Jersey Assembly passed legislation that requires employers in New Jersey to provide earned sick leave to their employees. The legislation was then passed by the New Jersey Senate on April 12th, and now heads to Governor Phil Murphy’s desk for signature. He tweeted out that he intends to sign the bill into law on May 2nd. He believes that enacting the law will “support working families and strengthen our economy.”

What is the New Bill?

The proposed legislation allows New Jersey workers to accrue paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The number of hours of leave that can be accrued per year is capped at 72 hours. There is no minimum amount of time an employee must be employed before they are able to start accruing paid sick leave. Employers are required to give employees the same pay rate and benefits for earned sick leave that the employees would regularly receive for working hours. Employers may offer to pay workers for their unused earned sick leave in the final month of the year. The sick leave can be used for physical and mental illness, to care for an ill or injured family member, or to attend a school-related event for a child. Employers are prohibited from retaliating or discriminating against an employee for using their paid sick leave. Employers also must not discipline, discharge, demote, suspend, or take any other adverse action against employees who are using their sick leave.

Why was this Bill Passed?

The intent of the new legislation is to ensure an employee does not have to choose between a paycheck and going to work sick. Governor Murphy tweeted “No one should lose a day’s pay due to sickness or because a loved one has fallen ill.”

Who has to Comply?

The new bill preempts all existing municipal and county sick leave laws. However, if an employer is already offering full paid leave that is accrued at a rate equal to or greater than that in the new policy, they will be in full compliance with the new law.

Any exceptions?

  • Small businesses: Even small businesses must comply with the new legislation, but if an employer qualifies as a “small employer,” meaning they average less than 10 employees per year, the number of hours a worker can accrue in a year is capped at 40. A motion was made by Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Passaic) before the Assembly to exempt employers with less than 10 employees from the new legislation, but that motion was tabled.
  • Exempt workers: The new legislation does not cover per diem health care workers or construction workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

When Will the Law Go into Effect?

The law will go into effect 180 days after it is signed by Governor Murphy.

If you have any questions about the new law, feel free to contact Jennifer Fischer (jfischer@kelleydrye.com) or Mark Konkel (mkonkel@kelleydyre.com).