October 29, 2018 marked the beginning of time when all New Jersey private and non-profit employers must follow the new Earned Sick Leave Act for all employees, whether full time or part time. In addition, Pennsylvania and other states’ employers with employees performing “all of their work in New Jersey” must also be following the new law*. Construction industry employees who work under a collective bargaining agreement, per diem healthcare employees, and public employees with sick leave benefits in place are exempt from the law.

If this applies to any of your employees, you must provide those employees with a copy of the Notice of Employee Rights about the law no later than November 29, 2018, and this notice must also be posted in a conspicuous place (e.g., with your other required employer posters). New employees must get the notice at time of hire.

If the law applies to your employees, you must be tracking the employees’ hours and accruing paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked as of October 29, 2018. Employers may set a maximum limit of 40 paid sick leave hours per employee (regardless of part-time or full-time status).

In addition, the employer needs to come up with a benefit year to track future sick leave accruals. That might be October 29 through October 28, January 1 through December 31, or another 12 consecutive-month period that follows your other benefits annual renewal year. This benefit year is how you will track your current/long-term employees, but all new employees begin accruing sick leave on their first day of work, and then fall into place with your benefit year end date.

Employers are allowed to require a 120-day (or something less) eligibility period, which would stipulate that an employee will not receive paid sick leave before that eligibility period, but the time still must begin accruing on their first day of work.

The law stipulates the circumstances for which employees must be allowed to take paid sick leave, how sick time is carried over and/or paid out at the end of the benefit year period, and limits the requirements an employer can put on any advance-notice rules employees must follow. Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to “find a replacement” for their shift if they are using paid sick leave, and employers are required to keep time and pay records for a minimum of five years.

*New Jersey has not yet published the final regulations on this law, so many employers, administrators, and even employment attorneys have unanswered questions, but it is clear that employers must now be providing the paid sick leave to eligible employees.

If this law applies to your employees and you need further clarification of how your company needs to comply with the law, including re-writing of your sick paid leave policy, or need a copy of the Notice of Employee Rights please contact Jill Scheetz at [email protected] or 215-997-7270.

This is a good time to remind PA employers that if you have employees working in Philadelphia but you are not a Philadelphia-based employer, you must still be following the Philadelphia Sick Leave law for those employees.

By Jill Scheetz, PHR, SHRM-CP

NJ Department of Labor’s Paid Sick Law Now in Effect