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On May 2, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law which requires most private sector employers to provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave in a 12-month period to every employee for their own diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care, or, for that of a family member. This Fast Facts helps employers understand the changes the law imposes as well as ensure their policies comply.

Not including New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Law, P.L.2018, c.10, there are eight separate federal and state statutes that guarantee leave time or partial wage replacement for New Jersey workers. For instance, workers caring for a sick family member or recovering from childbirth can take leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). New Jersey law also provides additional leave rights, including the right to parental leave and domestic violence leave. Employees can likewise collect temporary disability benefits when they are unable to work due to their own disabling conditions (including pregnancy), as well as paid family leave benefits when caring for a family member.

That said, for many years employers had discretion in whether or not to establish paid time off (PTO) policies like those that provided paid sick days for short-term illnesses. Following a national movement, New Jersey municipalities in 2014 began imposing government mandates that all workers receive paid sick leave to deal with reasons not covered by other laws.

With the enactment of the Paid Sick Leave Law, New Jersey became the 10th state, including Washington, D.C., to impose a statewide paid sick leave requirement, establishing one statewide standard, and preempting any previously enacted municipal ordinances.

General Compliance Information

When does the law take effect?
The law takes effect October 29, 2018.

Are all employers required to provide paid sick leave? Is there a small business exemption?
Almost all employers are required to provide paid sick leave. There is no minimum number of employees an employer needs to have for the Paid Sick Leave Law to apply, i.e. there is no small business exemption.

Only three groups of employees are not covered by the law:

  1. those in the construction industry that are under contract with a collective bargaining agreement;
  2. per diem healthcare employees; and,
  3. public employees who are provided with sick leave under another law, rule, or regulation.

Are all employees eligible for paid sick leave?
Part-time and temporary employees are covered by the law as are exempt and non-exempt employees.

For what reasons can paid sick leave be used?
Under the law, an employer must allow an employee to use paid sick leave for any of the following reasons:

  • the diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery from an employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or condition, or, for their preventative care;
  • the diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery from a family member’s own mental or physical illness, injury or condition, or, for their preventative care;
  • to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault experienced by an employee, or experienced by one of their family members;
  • if an employee’s place of business, or their child’s school, or place of care has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason;
  • if a public health official has determined that an employee or a member of their family could jeopardize the health of others; and,
  • for an employee to attend a school-related conference, meeting, function or other event, or to attend a meeting to discuss the child’s health conditions or disability.

Nothing prevents an employer from allowing employees to use paid sick leave for other reasons not specifically mentioned in the law, but, at a minimum, employers must allow use of the time for the reasons mentioned above.

What is the definition of a family member?
A family member includes a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent, or grandparent of an employee, or a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner of a parent or grandparent of the employee, or a sibling of a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner of the employee, or any other individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Paid Sick Leave Accrual

How is paid sick leave awarded?
Employees earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked starting on October 29, 2018 (the law’s effective date), or the date the employee is hired, whichever is later. Employees can earn a maximum of 40 hours over a 12 month consecutive period established by the employer. That means employers can still award time at the beginning of the calendar year, or at the start of some other time period like a fiscal year. However, once the “benefit year” is established, it can’t be changed without notifying the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOLWD). To simplify bookkeeping, employers can choose to frontload paid sick leave at the beginning of their benefit year to cover the hours that their employees are projected to earn.

Nothing prevents an employer from offering a more generous policy which provides more than 40 hours.

When can an employee begin using paid sick leave?
Employers are permitted to make new employees wait up to 120 days before starting to use their time. Employers are not required to permit an employee to accrue or use in any benefit year, or carry forward from one benefit year to the next, more than 40 hours of paid sick leave.

Can employers choose the increments in which employees may use the time?
Yes. For instance, a company’s PTO policy can still state that employees must use the sick time in four- or eight-hour hour increments. However, employers must make sure that employees aren’t required to use more time than they’re scheduled to work. So, in the above example, an employer can’t require an employee to use eight hours if they are only scheduled to work four.

Does an employer now have to carry over an employee’s unused time from one benefit year to the next?
Yes. Under the law, an employee must be permitted to carry over at least 40 hours of paid sick leave that they have earned, but not used within a given benefit year unless the employer provides a payout. If the employer elects to instead payout the time, the employee has 10 days from receiving the offer to make a decision. If the employee agrees to be paid, they can choose to do so for the full amount of time (at their regular rate) or for 50 percent of their unused time, in which case they still carryover the remaining balance.

Does accrued paid sick leave time need to be paid out if an employee leaves a company, regardless of the reason?
No. The law doesn’t require employers to pay out employees for unused sick time regardless of whether they leave the company voluntarily or are terminated.

How is sick leave pay calculated?
When time is taken as sick leave, it is paid at the same rate and with the same benefits that the employee normally earns.

Impact on Existing PTO Policies

Can employers still provide paid sick leave as part of a general PTO bank, or, do a certain number of days need to be specifically designated?
Employers can still provide a PTO bank which includes a combination of personal days, vacation days, and sick days, etc., as long as the time can be used for the same reasons and accrues at the same rate (or faster) than it does under the Paid Sick Leave Law.

How does the law impact collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)?
Nothing in the law stops an employer from adopting a CBA to provide more favorable rights or benefits. To the extent that the CBA is less favorable, or has workers accrue time at a slower rate, it may need to be changed. If a CBA is already in place when the law takes effect, the law will not apply until the CBA expires.

How does the law impact call-out policies and discipline for absenteeism? Can employers still ask for advanced notice before sick leave is used?
Employers can’t require their employees to find someone to cover their shifts while they are using paid sick leave. They can require up to seven calendar days’ advanced notice, but only if an employee’s need to use paid sick leave is “foreseeable.” Otherwise, the employee only has to provide notice as soon as it’s practicable, or reasonable, for them.

In addition, once an employee earns paid sick leave and uses it for a valid reason, it is illegal to retaliate against them. That means employers can’t count paid sick leave as an absence toward an employee getting disciplined, demoted, suspended or terminated. Likewise, the law creates a rebuttable presumption that a negative employment action (like a demotion) is retaliation if it is taken or threatened within 90 days of the employee:

  • filing a complaint with the NJDOLWD;
  • informing “any person” about their rights under the law, or, about a possible violation;
  • cooperating in an investigation or prosecution; or
  • opposing any policy, practice, or act that they believe is illegal under the Paid Sick Leave Law.

At what point can an employer ask for a doctor’s note as a condition of taking or returning from paid sick leave?
An employer can request documentation once an employee has taken three or more consecutive workdays as paid sick leave.

Can an employer establish black-out days where paid sick leave cannot be used such as in particularly busy times for the business?
Yes, but paid sick leave can only be denied on those days if the need for the leave is “foreseeable.” If the need is not foreseeable and an employee is absent on one of those days, an employer can ask for reasonable documentation like a doctor’s note.

Notice & Recordkeeping Requirements

What are employers required to tell their employees about the law?
Employers must:

  1. Post a notice (provided by the commissioner of the NJDOLWD) in a conspicuous place.
  2. Provide a copy of the notice to all employees:
  • Within 30 days after it is issued by the NJDOLWD;
  • At the time of an employee’s hiring, if the employee is hired after the notice is issued; and
  • Any time an employee requests a copy of the notice.

Employers with bilingual workforces must post and provide the notification in English, Spanish, and any other language for which the NJDOLWD has made the notification available and which the employer reasonably believes is the first language of a significant number of the employer’s workforce.

Does the law impose any additional record keeping requirements on employers?
Yes. The law requires employers to keep records documenting the hours worked and the paid sick time earned and used by each employee for at least five years. If an employee claims an employer did not provide the paid sick leave they were entitled to and the employer does not have the necessary records, it’s assumed that employer did not provide the leave.

Penalties for Not Complying with the Law
What are the penalties for not following the law?
New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Law imposes the same penalties as those imposed for other wage and hour violations. These are fines of $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. For “willful violations,” or, when an employer is found to have intentionally disregarded the law or acted with indifference, penalties increase to between $100 and $1,000 and 10-90 days in prison. For further “willful” violations, employers can be fined between $500 and $1,000 and/or face between 10 and 100 days in prison.

Preemption of State Law
Thirteen municipalities have their own ordinances which impose different provisions for businesses operating within their borders. Which standards should be followed?
New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Law contains strong preemption language which bars New Jersey municipalities from adopting ordinances, rules, resolutions or regulations regarding criminal histories in the employment process. That means that this new law is the standard and supersedes requirements imposed by cities like Newark and Jersey City.

Recommended Next Steps for Employers
Employers may wish to consider these best practices prior to the law becoming effective on October 29, 2018:

  • Review current PTO policies, call-out and discipline procedures. Close attention should be paid to the law’s specific requirements on accrual, carry over, and the definition of a family member for whom paid sick leave could be used. If a current PTO policy is in excess of the new requirements, it need not be changed;
  • Train managers and supervisors about the law’s anti-retaliation provisions. That is, employees can no longer be required to find their replacements and may only have to provide “reasonable” notice that they intend to use paid sick leave;
  • Develop a system to comply with the recordkeeping provisions of the law and to keep track of how much paid sick leave is accrued by each employee; and,
  • More information on the paid sick leave law can be found at, including a notification poster that must be provided and posted informing workers of their rights under the Paid Sick Leave Law.

For More Information
If you need additional information, please contact NJBIA’s Member Action Center at 1-800-499-4419, ext. 3 or

This information should not be construed as constituting specific legal advice. It is intended to provide general information about this subject and general compliance strategies. For specific legal advice, NJBIA strongly recommends members consult with their attorney.

35 responses to “New Statewide Paid Sick Leave Law”

  1. Sangita Bhavsar says:

    Per law you cannot discipline employee for taking sick time… but what should you do after they exhausted 40 hours sick time? Can we discipline them at that point per company policy?

    • Phil Blaustein says:

      There is a Limo company in NJ that does not pay for sick time or vacation pay. It that legal ? They also don’t pay for the time it takes to buy gas fore their cars and buses.

      • Thank you for your comments. Please keep in mind that until October 29, 2018, there is no requirement on employers to provide paid sick leave or vacation pay. We’d love to discuss the second part of your question with you in more detail. Are you by any chance a member of the Association?

        • Michelle says:

          My employer still hasn’t said a word to us. When we asked her about month in half to two months ago she said it doesn’t pertain to her/us? We all are afraid to say anything bc we don’t want to get fires not that she can fire us for that but she will find another way. What should we do?

    • Thank you for your comments and for your membership with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. We are following up with you privately to discuss your options as an employer.

  2. Jessy Navarro says:

    can an employer reduce established vacation time to accommodate new sick leave law requirements?

  3. Sam Stettler says:

    Is there a minimum number of hours that an employee has to work in a week to be covered and are all per diem healthcare workers exempt from the law?

  4. Lillian Brizek says:

    If you work for a NJ public school as an aide and don’t get benefits, will we qualify for paid sick leave?

  5. If an employee carries 20 hours of unused time over to next benefit year-
    Do they still accrue 40 hours in new year or 20 to total 40 again?

  6. Elaina Trocki says:

    Our benefit year runs from Jan 1-Dec 31. Our intention was to front load the required sick hours. Since this law goes in to effect on 10/29/18, can we pro-rate the 40 hours for the number of months remaining in 2018 and then provide the full 40 hours again on Jan 1, 2019?

  7. Michael Griese says:

    Our company offers a bank of 20 PTO days for employees to use however they wish. This will obviously change under the law and those employees who don’t use sick days will now lose vacation or personal days if we reallocate 15 PTO days and 5 sick days. Under the law, can an employee voluntarily refuse sick days and convert them to vacation days so they are back to 20 PTO days if they don’t get sick?

  8. rylie smith says:

    We are a retail/specialty market. Most employees are hourly. We did not have vacation, sick or holidays paid. Now we are developing a PTO policy. Can this policy be used at the employees discretion? Use for personal, vacation, appointments, holidays or sick? Is there a maximum of black out dates a employer can note under policy?

  9. Tom Adinolfi says:

    If we require 8 hours (a full day) to be used for sick leave and a new employee has only accrued 3 hours, how would this be handled?
    Thank you

  10. Kathy says:

    What’s considered part time?

  11. Josephine says:

    Are employers with less than 10 employees required to offer a certain amount of sick time that is not covered withing the 1hr/30hrs? Does this include part-time?

  12. Charles G. says:

    Our company has 10 employees.
    Employees with 2 years of employment receive
    2 weeks paid vacation (80Hrs). The business is closed for 1 week for plant shutdown
    in the summer which they get paid (40hrs) Then they can use their additional 40 hrs
    any time throughout the year following the shutdown and get paid at the time the hours are used.
    Would that additional 40hrs be in compliance of the paid sick leave law?
    Also, There are 2 employees with less than 1 year of employment, I’m assuming they will be accurring paid sick leave hours according to the new law, Correct? But after 2 years of employment and receiving 2 weeks paid vacation Can they been dropped from the laws requirement, being they will be receiving an additional 40 hours?

    Thank you

  13. Patty girdon says:

    Can an employer cut your hours a week and a half before the law takes effect from 30 to 29 so that they do not have to pay you 4 hours per month of accrued sick leave?

  14. Andrea says:

    We have 100 percent commission exempt associates that we do not track their vacation or sick time. with this new law would we be required to track it and give them official sick time on their records, or are they exempt from this law due to the nature of their jobs?

  15. Roslyn A Del Mauro says:

    My employer said HE WILL NOT PAY ME FOR ACCUMULATED SICK TIME (I work part time). Who can I call to discuss this with.

  16. rich everett says:

    my company says because we are per diem drivers and work various hours up to 25 hours a week, and work for non profit company ,they dont have to pay sick time

  17. Diana says:

    I own a business with only part time employees (5). Each one works anywhere from 3-25 hours per week. They also have two different rates, one for the office work and one for the tactical work. Do I have to track the PTO separately for each pay rate? How does that work?

  18. Donna says:

    I own a small air duct cleaning business (s-corp) and only have 2 employees and they work on an as needed basis (which is only when we have work-anywhere from 0 to 40 hours a week). If one of the employees does not show up for work I have to cancel the job and don’t make any money that day because we can’t perform the work that day. Am I expected to pay someone sick time when I’m not making any money ?

  19. If an employee rolls over 40 hours of sick leave, are they then able to earn another 40 hours in the next year? Which would then give then 80 hours to use for sick leave.

  20. Valeria says:

    At my job our employer did not offer any pay for sick day, nothing before or after the law!! We do not have a poster and never spoke about us having the right of earn pay sick time!! What do we do about it!!!?

  21. Carlos says:

    You can add sick time,but doesn’t mean the employer will let you use can I go about if they won’t let me use it

  22. Carlos says:

    How can I get a job at your plant?

  23. Qbert says:

    I asked for a sick day and my employer refused to pay I was told that the law is at Will ( meaning the will pay me only if they want to participate ) that’s what I was told. Do I get 10 dollars an hour or 2.60 ( tip employe )
    Help please
    Thank you

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