New Jersey’s Paid-Sick-Leave Law: What Employers Need to Know (2022)

New Jersey has now become the tenth state to enact a statewide mandatory paid-sick-leave law. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act was signed into law on May 2 by Gov. Phil Murphy and will go into effect on Oct. 29. Once effective, it will require New Jersey employers of all sizes to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to covered employees.

Just about every employer with workers in New Jersey will feel the impact of this new law in one way or another. Consequently, you should start preparing now to ensure your policies and practices are compliant with the Act. Here's an overview on what New Jersey employers need to know:

Who Is Covered?

Covered employees: The act applies to most employees working in the state "for compensation." The act expressly excludes employees in the construction industry employed under a collective bargaining agreement, per diem healthcare employees, and public employees who already have sick leave benefits.

Covered employers: The act broadly applies to any business entity, irrespective of size, that employs employees in the state of New Jersey, including a temporary help service firm. It expressly excludes public employers required to provide their employees with sick leave.

How Is Leave Accrued?

Accrual period:The act requires employers to designate any period of 12 consecutive months as a "benefit year." Employers cannot change the established benefit year without first notifying the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Under the act, current employees begin accruing sick time on the effective date of the act. New employees hired after the effective date of the act begin accruing sick time on the first date of their employment.

Accrual limits: 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. Employers with existing paid time off (PTO), personal days, vacation days and sick-day policies may utilize those policies to satisfy the requirements of the act as long as employees can use the time off as required by the act.

(Video) [Webinar] NJ Paid Sick Leave

In the case of a temporary help service firm placing an employee with client firms, paid sick leave will accrue on the basis of the total time worked on assignment with the firm, not separately for each client firm to which the employee is assigned.

How Can Leave Be Used?

Employers are not required to permit employees to use more than 40 hours of sick leave in a benefit year. Employees can use accrued sick time after the 120th day of their first date of employment for the following reasons:

  • Diagnosis, care or treatment of—or recovery from—an employee's own mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care.
  • Aid or care for a covered family member during diagnosis, care or treatment of—or recovery from—the family member's mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care.
  • Circumstances related to an employee's or their family member's status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence (including the need to obtain related medical treatment, seek counseling, relocate or participate in related legal services).
  • Closure of an employee's workplace or of a school/childcare of an employee's child because of a public official's order relating to a public health emergency.
  • Time to attend a meeting requested or required by school staff to discuss a child's health condition or disability.

The act broadly defines "family member" to include individuals related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Employers may not require an employee to find a replacement to cover the employee's absence.

What Rules Govern Carryover and Payout?

Maximum carryover:The act does not require employers to permit employees to carry over more than 40 hours of accrued sick time in a single benefit year.

Optional buyout:Employers may, but are not obligated to, offer to pay employees for their unused accrued sick time in the final month of the benefit year. If employees agree to receive the payment, they may choose a payment for the full amount of their unused accrued sick time or for 50 percent of such time.

(Video) NJ Paid Sick Leave Law

The payment amount shall be based on the same rate of pay that the employee earns at the time of the payment. If an employer frontloads the entire amount of sick time, it must either pay the employee for the full amount of unused accrued sick time in the final month of the employer's benefit year or carry forward any unused sick time to the next benefit year. Employee approval is not required.

In What Increments Can Workers Use Leave?

The act provides employers with the discretion to choose the increments in which its employees may use accrued sick time. However, the largest increment chosen may not be larger than the number of hours an employee was scheduled to work in a given shift. For example, if an employee is scheduled to work a 7-hour shift, the employer cannot mandate that the employee use paid sick time in increments of eight hours.

What Happens Upon Transfer, Separation or Reinstatement?

Transfer of employment to a related or successor employer: If an employee is employed by a successor employer or transferred to a separate division, entity or location of the same employer, the employee will retain and be entitled to use all accrued sick time.

Separation of employment: Unless the employer has a policy or collective bargaining agreement providing for the payment of accrued sick leave upon termination, resignation, retirement or other separation from employment, the act does not require the employer to pay employees for unused accrued sick leave upon the separation from employment.

Reinstatement of employment: If an employee is separated from employment but then reinstated within six months, all of the employee's unused and accrued sick time must be reinstated.

What Notice and Documentation Is Required?

(Video) Earned Sick Days in New Jersey

Foreseeable absences:Employers may require advance notice, not to exceed seven calendar days, of the intention to use the leave and the expected duration. Employers may require employees to make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer. Employers may prohibit employees from using foreseeable sick leave on certain dates, and require reasonable documentation if sick leave that is not foreseeable is used during those dates.

Unforeseeable absences:Employers may require employees to give notice of the intention to use the leave as soon as practicable, provided that the employer has notified the employee of this requirement.

Absences of three days or more:If an employee is absent for at least three consecutive days, the employer may require documentation that confirms that the employee used sick leave for a covered purpose.

What Are the Notice and Record-Keeping Rules?

Employers must post a notification of employees' rights under the act and provide employees with a written copy of the notice within 30 days after the department has issued a model notice and each time thereafter when an employee is hired or requests such a notice. Additionally, employers must retain records documenting hours worked by employees and paid sick time taken by employees for a period of five years and permit the department access to those records.

What If We Have a Collective Bargaining Agreement?

The act does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that is in effect at the time of the effective date of the act, at least until the CBA expires. Even then, employees or their representatives may waive the rights under the act during the negotiation of the CBA.

What About Local Paid-Sick-Leave Laws?

(Video) FMLA and NJ Paid Sick Leave Act and COVID-19

The act preempts all existing and future municipal ordinances in New Jersey regarding paid sick time. There are presently 13 New Jersey municipalities with paid-sick-time ordinances: Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Passaic, Trenton, Montclair, Irvington, New Brunswick, Plainfield and Morristown. All of these ordinances will become moot upon the effective date of the act.

How Will the Law Be Enforced?

Employees may sue their employers for violating the act and can seek actual damages suffered as a result of the violation, plus an equal amount of liquidated damages.

How Does the Anti-Retaliation Provision Work?

The anti-retaliation provision of the act includes a rebuttable presumption that an employer's actions are unlawful if it takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee engaging in activity protected under the act. This includes such actions as filing a complaint with the department, cooperating with an investigation, opposing policies and practices that are unlawful under the act, or informing other individuals of their rights under the act.

What Should Employers Do Now?

A full copy of the recently enacted bill can be foundhere. In anticipation of the effective date of this new law, you should review your paid time off, vacation or other paid leave policies to determine whether you will have to implement a paid-sick-time policy for any of your employees or amend your existing policies to ensure compliance with the act. You should also inform managers and supervisors of any new policy changes and of the importance of the provisions of the law prohibiting retaliation.

You should also consider revising your employee handbooks to account for these changes. For example, if you choose not to pay out accrued but unused sick leave upon termination, you must make that abundantly clear in your written policies. Finally, you should be on the lookout for the poster and template notice issued by the Department.

(Video) Law will now expand earned sick leave in New Jersey

Alvaro Hasani is an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Murray Hill, N.J. © Fisher Phillips. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.

FAQs

Can employer ask why you are calling out in NJ? ›

No federal law prohibits employers from asking employees why they are out sick. They are free to ask questions such as when you expect to return to work. They may also require you to furnish proof of your illness, such as a note from a physician.

Can an employer demand to know why you are sick? ›

The subject is a gray area for many employees, but the laws in California clear up some of the questions. Your employer is allowed to ask you why you are taking a sick day, including asking the nature of your ailment.

Can an employer deny sick time NJ? ›

Employee Rights Under The NJ Paid Sick Leave Law

Employers are prohibited from denying workers sick leave for legitimate reasons or retaliating against those who use or ask about sick leave. Retaliation is any action that has an adverse effect on an employee, such as: Termination.

Can an employer ask for a doctor's note in New Jersey? ›

Employers may require reasonable documentation, such as a doctor's note, if the employee uses sick leave for sickness or injury for three or more consecutive days. If the need for leave is foreseeable, employers may require up to seven days' notice.

Can your boss say no if you call in sick? ›

Technically, your boss can ask you to come in at any time. They can also be upset or write you up for not showing up — especially if you don't call to let them know. It is your responsibility to explain that you are sick and unable to come in. Many employers provide paid time off (PTO) for sickness.

What questions are employers not allowed to ask? ›

It is illegal to ask a candidate questions about their:
  • Age or genetic information.
  • Birthplace, country of origin or citizenship.
  • Disability.
  • Gender, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Marital status, family, or pregnancy.
  • Race, color, or ethnicity.
  • Religion.
4 days ago

Can employer ask for proof of illness? ›

If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of SSP (statutory sick pay). Your employer can ask you to confirm that you've been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work.

What medical questions can an employer ask? ›

Once a person is hired and has started work, an employer generally can only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee's request for an accommodation or if the employer has reason to believe an employee would not be able to perform a job ...

Can employers ask about sick days? ›

Your employer can choose whether or not to disclose how many sick days you took while employed by them. In what circumstances a job offer can be withdrawn. Why it's wise to tell a new employer about any long standing illnesses you have.

Can your employer refuse to pay you sick pay? ›

Employer discretion

Your employer can choose to make an exception and pay you sick pay even if you don't qualify under the company rules. Also, some sick pay schemes say that payments are 'at the employer's discretion', which means your employer can refuse payment if they think the absence is unjustified.

Does an employer have to pay for sick days in NJ? ›

Under NJ state law, employers must provide up to 40 hours of paid earned sick leave per year to most full- and part-time employees, including migrant and seasonal employees. See our memo you can provide your employer on the COVID-19 vaccine and NJ Earned Sick Leave.

Can an employer deny a doctor's note? ›

Answer: Theoretically, an employer may refuse a medical note that does not provide sufficient detail concerning the reason for absence.

Can I be fired for calling out sick in NJ? ›

All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).

How long can a doctor give a sick note for? ›

In the first six months of a condition, the fit note can cover a maximum of three months. After that, it can be any clinically appropriate period.

How many sick days do you get in New Jersey? ›

Official Site of The State of New Jersey

Employers of all sizes must provide full-time, part-time, and temporary employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year so they can care for themselves or a loved one, and many COVID-19 situations are covered.

Can you fire an employee for calling in sick too much? ›

California's at-will employment status allows employers to terminate employment without any notice and for just about any reason. Termination that results from excessive absences is legal in states of at-will employment, especially since attendance is essential to job performance in most cases.

Do I have to explain why I'm calling out? ›

In general, employers are allowed to ask for the details of your illness. "Asking what is wrong requires the employee to give a brief and general explanation about why he or she is absent, e.g., the employee's child is sick, the employee has a general illness or the employee has a major or minor injury."

Do I have to tell my boss why Im calling out? ›

In short, you don't have to explain anything unless you need to take more time off than your contract allows. If that does happen, it's best to talk with Human Resources and ask for their advice about how to approach the subject with your boss.

What are 3 Illegal interview questions? ›

Bottom line: you cannot ask questions that in any way relate to a candidate's:
  • Age.
  • Race.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Color.
  • Gender.
  • Sex.
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Country of origin.

What are employers allowed to ask previous employers? ›

A former employer can tell a potential employer anything as long as the information is factual and correct. Under federal law, there is nothing to prevent a former employer from saying whatever they care to tell about people who worked for them and left, even if under less than ideal circumstances.

Can my boss ask me personal questions? ›

As an employer, you are not allowed to ask about an individual's past or present personal health, including operations, hospital visits, or doctor's appointments. You also need to avoid any questions about mental health, disabilities, and anything else related to the mental and physical status of the employee.

Can you call in sick for mental health? ›

If you need time off for your mental health

If you think your mental health would negatively affect your job performance, it's okay to take a sick day. Legally, employers must treat sick days for physical illnesses or injuries the same as sick days for mental health.

Can my employer tell my coworkers I am sick? ›

Unless a manager, supervisor, or human resources employee has a legitimate need to know, it's safe to say that an employer that discloses private medical information to other employees is breaking the law.

Can my boss contact me when I am off? ›

How often is my employer allowed to contact me while I am off work? There are no set rules about how often your employer should contact you while you are off sick, it all comes down to what is reasonable.

Can employers ask for medical details? ›

Your employer cannot request any medical information from a medical professional without your consent.

Can my employer ask me about my health? ›

Requests from your employer

Your employer can ask you for a doctor's note or other health information if they need the information for sick leave, workers' compensation, wellness programs, or health insurance.

Do you have to tell your employer about health issues? ›

An employee or job candidate is not legally obliged to mention any medical condition, whether mental or not to an employer. Mental illness in particular is a very personal thing and it can be difficult to talk about even to your nearest and dearest, let alone an employer.

Can you text in sick? ›

Texts are an informal way of communicating, but you need to be professional when you send a call in sick text message to your supervisor. You should use proper punctuation and full sentences. Here is calling in sick two days in a row text in sick to work example.

Can you go shopping while on sick leave? ›

Even if an employee is signed off sick, there may be various activities that they can legitimately undertake during their absence from work. For example, an employee may be genuinely unfit to work but perfectly able to go grocery shopping, go for a walk or run, or visit friends and family.

How long can you be off sick before being dismissed? ›

Here's the short answer… Sick leave counts as 'long-term' after four weeks. There is no maximum period of sickness absence but your employer should allow a “reasonable” length for you to recover.

Do you get paid if the doctor signed you off work? ›

Depends on your contract. If you are not paid by your employer, you will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay which is paid through them.

Do employers have to give a reference? ›

Your employer doesn't usually have to give you a reference unless: your contract says they will. you have written proof they've agreed to give you a reference - like an email.

Can you sack someone on sick leave? ›

Can you sack someone while they're on sick leave? Taking the above into account - yes, you can sack someone while they're off on sick leave. It's possible to hold disciplinary procedures with an employee while they're on sick leave - including those that result in dismissal.

How does NJ sick pay work? ›

Employees accrue 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per benefit year. An employee can work additional hours to compensate for work missed rather than use earned sick leave, with the employer's consent.

What is the NJ SAFE Act? ›

The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”), P.L. 2013, c. 82, provides that certain employees are eligible to receive an unpaid leave of absence, for a period not to exceed 20 days in a 12-month period, to address circumstances resulting from domestic violence or a sexually violent offense.

How many sick days per year is normal? ›

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. End of interactive chart. On average, workers in private industry received 7 days of sick leave per year at 1 year of service. The average also was 7 days at 5 and 10 years of service and 8 sick days per year at 20 years of service.

Can HR override a doctor's sick note? ›

The only time it's illegal for an employer to not accept a note is when the employee has a medical need and is using the FMLA to take time off. The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of time off work for medical related needs and the employer cannot retaliate by firing or otherwise disciplining the employee.

What can an employer ask for in a doctor's note? ›

Under HIPAA's Privacy Rule, an employer can ask employees for a doctor's note and other health information if the information is needed for “sick leave, workers' compensation, wellness programs or health insurance.”

How many days can you call off work without a doctor's note? ›

Generally, employers do not request a doctor's note until the sick absence is three or more consecutive days.

How many times can an employee call in sick? ›

Although employees may accrue more than three days of paid sick leave under the one hour for every 30 hours worked (or under an alternative accrual standard) under an accrual method, the law allows employers to limit an employee's use of paid sick leave to 24 hours or three days during a year.

How many sick days is too much? ›

What is excessive absenteeism? Excessive absenteeism would be 3 more absences in a 30-day period, 5 or more in 6-months, or 10 or more in a 12-month period. But excessive absenteeism may vary from company to company.

Is PTO the same as sick leave? ›

A: A paid sick leave policy is a standalone policy that offers time off for illness and certain other situations. A PTO policy bundles various types of leave, such as vacation, sick, and personal leave, into a single bank that employees can use for any purpose.

Can you get a fit note for depression? ›

Depression is a serious mental health issue, and in genuine cases, a doctor will issue a fit note. Follow the earlier advice—attend the first appointment you can, and speak honestly about your problems. You can take someone with you as a form of support to the appointment.

Do you go back to work the day your sick note expires? ›

Your employee should return to work once their fit note expires (if they have not already done so) or will need a new fit note.

How long can a Med 3 be issued for? ›

Usually a Med 3 is used, and this is filled in by the GP when the patient is seen in surgery. An assessment of the patient's capability to do their job should be carried out. If the illness is expected to last less than 14 days, a return-to-work date can be given on the certificate.

Can an employer ask why you are sick in New Jersey? ›

Under the law, your employer may not request that your medical documentation specify the medical reason for your leave. Any information provided to your employer must be kept confidential. Can my employer require notice from workers who want to use sick time?

Can an employer ask for a doctor's note in New Jersey? ›

Employers may require reasonable documentation, such as a doctor's note, if the employee uses sick leave for sickness or injury for three or more consecutive days. If the need for leave is foreseeable, employers may require up to seven days' notice.

How many vacation days are required by law in NJ? ›

Under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act ("NJ SAFE Act"), employees have the right to take up to 20 days of unpaid time off necessary because they, or a member of their immediate family, has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Do I have to tell my work why Im calling out? ›

In general, employers are allowed to ask for the details of your illness. "Asking what is wrong requires the employee to give a brief and general explanation about why he or she is absent, e.g., the employee's child is sick, the employee has a general illness or the employee has a major or minor injury."

Do you have to give a reason when you call out of work? ›

Emergency: Some urgent, non-medical reasons to call out of work may include an emergency home repair, like a flood or fire, or a death in the family. Personal: If your employer offers you personal days to use throughout the year, you can usually take them without having to give a specific reason.

Do you need a reason to fire someone in New Jersey? ›

Under New Jersey law, absent an employment contract, all employment is at-will. In other words, an employer generally can terminate an employee at any time for any reason.

Do you need a reason to fire someone in NJ? ›

10) New Jersey is an “at will” state, which means that for most employees, an employer or employee may terminate the relationship at any time, without a reason and cause. You can get fired for no reason, and you are not entitled to “three strikes” or any sort of warning before you are terminated.

Can your boss ask about your personal life? ›

As an employer, you are not allowed to ask about an individual's past or present personal health, including operations, hospital visits, or doctor's appointments. You also need to avoid any questions about mental health, disabilities, and anything else related to the mental and physical status of the employee.

What is considered excessive calling out? ›

Excessive absenteeism is a term that describes an employee who is away from work too much. This can include actual absences, such as unauthorized personal days or an excessive number of sick days. It can also include repeated tardiness, frequent long lunches or recurring early departures.

Can my boss tell me what to do outside of work? ›

Generally, an employee's off-duty conduct is off-limits as far as employers are concerned. Exceptions do exist if there is some relationship between the off-duty conduct and your business and if misconduct outside of the workplace poses a risk for your business.

Can you text in sick? ›

Texts are an informal way of communicating, but you need to be professional when you send a call in sick text message to your supervisor. You should use proper punctuation and full sentences. Here is calling in sick two days in a row text in sick to work example.

Can an employer ask what your medical condition is? ›

Whether you tell your employer about your illness is a personal decision. There is no law that says you have to share your diagnosis with anyone. If you do tell your employer, you have the right to privacy. They are not allowed to share the information with anyone else without your consent.

What is the best excuse to miss work? ›

Good Excuses To Miss Work
  1. Car (or Other) Accident. Accidents are unexpected events and usually qualify as legitimate requests for sudden leave, especially if serious injuries are involved. ...
  2. Death of a Loved One. ...
  3. Personal Illness. ...
  4. Child's Illness. ...
  5. Emergency. ...
  6. Car Problems. ...
  7. Medical Appointments. ...
  8. Miscellaneous Absences.

Can an employer fire and employee for no reason in NJ? ›

Wrongful Termination Is Unlawful in New Jersey

In most states, employment is “at will”. This means that the employer can fire the employee for no reason or any reason. However, there are two main reasons why a termination may be illegal: discrimination or retaliation.

Do you legally have to give 2 weeks notice in New Jersey? ›

The presumption is not only that your company can fire you for almost any reason, but also that you can quit your job for almost any reason without giving advance notice. Accordingly, while it is customary to give two weeks' notice when you resign, there is no legal requirement that you do so.

Does an employer have to honor a 2 week notice? ›

But is it legally required? It's common for American workers to provide their employers with two weeks' notice before quitting a job, so many people believe that doing so is legally required. It's not. No state or federal law requires you to notify your boss two weeks before leaving your job.

Can a job fire you for putting in your two weeks? ›

In the vast majority of states, employment is at will, meaning employees can be terminated at any time for any reason. Therefore, unless an employment contract says otherwise, employers can typically terminate an employee before their two-week notice ends.

Can a company fire you for no reason? ›

If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired with no warning, notice, or reason at any time. However, if you are fired because you are a member of a protected class, it would be considered discrimination and wrongful termination.

Can an employer force you to use PTO in NJ? ›

With your employer's consent, you can work additional hours to make up for hours of work missed rather than use earned sick leave. However, your employer cannot require this, or require you to use earned sick leave.

Videos

1. New Jersey Statewide Paid Sick Leave Act: Overview for Business Compliance
(SwipeClock)
2. New Jersey Paid Sick Leave and Pay Equity Webinar
(SKC & Co. CPAs)
3. NJ Sick Leave Law
(Brett Silverman)
4. What You Need to Know About Mandated Paid Sick Leave in NJ
(NJBIA)
5. Jersey Matters - Paid Sick Leave
(Jersey Matters)
6. New Jersey s New Paid Sick Leave Law
(CatureLeave leave management)

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