The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act takes effect this month. Employers and employees alike should take note.
Employers of all sizes are impacted by the law, and almost all employees within the state stand to benefit from the new measures. In essence, it gives workers in the state sick leave -- to a maximum of 40 hours per year -- based on the number of hours they work. The leave is cumulative (up the maximum allowable amount), and unused leave from one year is allowed to be carried into the next.
What can employees use their sick leave for?
- Personal illness of a physical or mental nature
- Diagnostic procedures for themselves or family members
- Medical attention related to incidents of violence
- Obtaining legal services related to domestic violence or attending judicial proceedings related to the same
- School-related events, including parent-teacher conferences that are held during work hours
- Public health emergencies, including times when a child needs to be home from school due to actual illness or an epidemic
- Preventative medical treatment, including routine doctors visits by the employee or the employee's family members
It's important for employers to understand that these benefits are not restricted to an employee's immediate family. Family members, for the purpose of the law, include siblings, grandchildren, parents and other relatives by blood or marriage.
In addition, employers are required to inform their employees about their new rights and benefits under the new law. Notices must be posted in the workplace, and the employer is required to keep track of the employee's accrued leave. Even after an employee leaves a company, the employer must retain those records for at least five years.
Some employers may, no doubt, resent it when employees take advantage of the leave to which they're entitled. If you feel that you've been retaliated against by an employer, including being wrongfully fired, for your use of sick leave, an attorney can advise you of your rights and options.