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The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act

The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act was signed into law in May 2018 and effective as of October 2018 and guarantees to all New Jersey employees paid sick leave. N.J.S.A. 34:11D-1. Lenzo & Reis, New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act attorneys, understand that getting paid time off to take care of yourself and your family without fear of being fired or otherwise retaliated against relieves a great burden to our State’s hardworking men and women. We help New Jersey’s workers understand what their legal entitlement is to leave under various state and federal laws.

Who Is Entitled To Earned Sick Leave And How Much Leave Do They Accrue?

The Paid Sick Leave Act makes it mandatory for all New Jersey employees to earn (accrue) one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. That means that, as of the effective date of the Act, both full-time and part-time New Jersey employees began accruing paid sick leave that they could use for certain permissible reasons.

What Are The Reasons For Which Employees Can Take Paid Earned Sick Leave?

Under the Paid Sick Leave Act , employees can use accrued sick time for a number of reasons in addition to their own illness. N.J.S.A. 34:11D-3. For example, employers must allow employees to use accrued sick time for any of the following health-related reasons:

  1. the employee’s own mental or physical condition or illness,
  2. the employee’s own preventative health care,
  3. to care for a family member during that family member’s mental or physical condition or illness, or
  4. to obtain preventative care for a family member.

In addition, the law also requires employers to allow employees to use Earned Sick Leave if the employee or employee’s family member is a victim of sexual violence or domestic violence. Employees are also legally entitled to take Earned Sick Leave if they are unable to work because their office or workplace is closed or their child’s school or childcare location is closed because of a declared state of emergency, epidemic or other public health emergency.

Lastly, the Paid Sick Leave Act provides for a series of circumstances under which employees can take accrued sick leave during a state of emergency and/or pandemic such as:

  1. a formal governmental declaration by the Governor, public health authority, or health care provider that a particular employee’s presence in the community, or the presence in the community of a member of that employee’s family who needs the employee to provide care, jeopardizes the health of others, or
  2. when an employee is under quarantine or caring for a family member in quarantine after a suspected exposure to some communicable disease that would be hazardous to the health of others during a declaration of emergency or upon the order of a public health authority or health care provider.
What Happens If I Didn’t Use My Earned Sick Leave At The End Of Any Year?

If employers require employees to accrue sick leave, the employers have to give employees the option of being paid for their unused earned sick leave at the end of the year or carrying the unused sick leave into the next year. If, however, employers provide employees with all of their earned sick leave at the beginning of the year and agree to provide employees with all of their earned leave at the beginning of the following year, they may choose to pay employees out for their unused leave.

Should I Be Paid For My Unused Sick Leave if I Quit, Retire or Am Fired?

Unfortunately, unless some workplace policy or a collective bargaining agreement that governs your employment requires that you be paid for unused sick time at the end of your employment, you are not entitled to be paid for accrued but unused sick time under the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Understand Or Am Being Denied My Right To Take Earned Sick Leave?

Being denied the right to take paid leave under the Paid Sick Leave Act is against the law. N.J.S.A. 34:11D-5. In fact, the failure to provide paid sick leave is considered a violation of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey held in Sirin v. Portx, Inc. that employees who are denied any rights under the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act may file suit in court and be compensated for their lost wages, receive up to 200% of their lost wages, and recover their attorneys’ fees and costs. The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act attorneys of Lenzo & Reis have successfully helped hundreds of employees throughout our State recover unpaid wages, additional damages up to 200%, and/or the paid sick leave that they needed to be able to continue working while also taking care of themselves or their families. We can help you, too. Contact New Jersey’s employment attorneys at (973) 845-9922 or e-mail by clicking here.

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