Paid sick leave is a controversial subject throughout the country. Only a handful of states require it in some form. Federal law only mandates unpaid leave. Employers tend to oppose paid sick leave laws, since these laws require them to pay their employees for time they are not at work. Advocates of paid sick leave laws point out the reality that people get sick, that they need to be able to take time to rest and recover, and that many people will come to work sick if they know that the alternative is losing needed income. Sick people who come to work instead of staying home are rarely as effective at their jobs during that time, and they risk making even more people sick. New Jersey joined the small number of states that mandate paid sick leave earlier this year, when the Legislature passed the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act (NJPSLA). When it takes effect on October 29, 2018, this law will apply to all employers in the state, regardless of number of employees.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), only 10 states, including New Jersey, and the District of Columbia had mandatory paid sick leave as of May 2018. Federal law contains no provisions for mandatory paid leave for any purpose, including sick leave and parental leave. Internationally, the United States is an outlier among developed nations. A 2009 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) compared paid sick leave policies in 22 countries. With the exceptions of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, all of the countries are located in Europe or North America. The CEPR found that the U.S. is one of only three countries, along with Canada and Japan, with no paid sick leave whatsoever at the national level. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Luxembourg and Norway provide paid sick leave for up to 50 days for serious medical conditions like cancer.
The NJPSLA differs from most state paid sick leave laws in the breadth of its coverage. It defines an “employer” as “any…entity that employs employees in the State,” with no exception for small businesses. By contrast, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, and to employees who have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for their employer in the last 12 months. The FMLA also differs in the sense that it only requires unpaid leave.
Workers claiming sick leave under the NJPSLA are entitled to their regular rate of pay. For every 30 hours worked, workers accrue one hour of paid sick leave. Workers can carry a maximum of 40 unused hours of earned sick leave to subsequent years. The NJPSLA identifies five acceptable reasons for use of accrued sick leave:
1. Diagnosis, treatment, or recovery from an injury, illness, or other “adverse health condition”;
2. Care for a family member during diagnosis, treatment, or recovery;
3. Medical, psychological, or other services related to domestic or sexual violence;
4. Closure of a workplace, or a worker’s child’s school, because of “an epidemic or other public health emergency”; and
5. Attendance at meetings with a child’s teacher, school administrator, or other specialist.
The FMLA lawyers at the Resnick Law Group advocate for the rights of employees, former employees, and job seekers in New Jersey and New York. Contact us at 973-781-1204, at 646-867-7997, or online today to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.
More Blog Posts:
FMLA Retaliation Claim Centers on Employee’s Social Media Posts, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, July 20, 2017
New Laws, Regulations Regarding Employee Sick Leave Set to Take Effect in New Jersey, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, November 11, 2016
New Laws Require Employers in Some New Jersey Cities to Provide Paid Sick Leave to Employees, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 6, 2015