New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act (P.L. 2018, c.10) took effect on Oct. 29, 2018. As part of its advocacy efforts, the NJSBA sought, and received, a clarification that the act provides an exemption for entities, such as boards of education, that are already required by statute to provide sick leave to employees.
Nevertheless, NJSBA has received inquiries as to the applicability of this law with respect to those school district employees not covered by statute requiring the provision of sick leave at full pay. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) has published an online list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the law and its impact on government entities, including boards of education, that provide sick leave to employees pursuant to another statute or regulation.
NJSBA strongly encourages school districts to review the following information on the DLWD website:
- Earned Sick Leave FAQs—https://www.nj.gov/labor/forms_pdfs/lwdhome/Legal/earnedsickleave.pdf;
- Earned Sick Leave Law Goes into Effect in New Jersey—https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2018/20181029_earnleave.html;
- Full text of the act (L.2018, c.10) – https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/PL18/10_.HTM
In addition, it is critical that district officials discuss this new law with their board attorneys and become familiar with its requirements so that they can be prepared for any future situations.
The DLWD has been tasked with enforcing the law and administering the program. To that end, new regulations regarding implementation of the statute have been proposed. They can be viewed on the DLWD website at https://www.nj.gov/labor/forms_pdfs/Roles/Legal/FinalAdminDecisions/2018/prn2018095.pdf, as well as in the New Jersey Register, 50 N.J.R. 10(2).
A public meeting on the proposed new rules will be held at the DLWD’s Trenton Office on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. Written comments to the proposed rules are due by Dec. 14, 2018. For information, visit the following webpage:
Following are details of the new law:
- Employer “means any person, firm, business, education institution, non-profit agency, corporation, limited-liability company, or other entity that employs employees in the state, including a temporary help services firm.”
- ”Employer does not include a public employer that is required to provide its employees with sick leave with full pay pursuant to any other law, rule or regulation of this state.”
With a few exceptions, the act covers all full and part-time employees engaged in service for compensation in the state of New Jersey.
Exceptions to the act
- Construction workers covered by collective bargaining agreements;
- Certain per diem healthcare employees; and
- Public employees who already receive sick leave under other state laws. See J.S.A. 18A:30-2.
Under the law, leave time accrues at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year.
Employers are not required to permit employees to accrue, use, or carry forward more than 40 hours of earned sick leave per benefit year.
Existing employees will begin to accrue leave on the effective date of the act. New hires will begin to accrue leave on the date of hire.
New hires may be subject to a 120-calendar-day waiting period before use of accrued leave (though employers may permit employees to use leave sooner). After the 120-day waiting period, new hires may use leave as soon as it is accrued.
The new law makes clear that employers who violate its provisions will be deemed to have failed to meet the wage payment requirements of the “New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law” and penalties shall be applicable.
Employers are required by the act to maintain records of an employee’s hours worked and earned sick leave taken for a period of five years, the employer should consider how it will track an employee’s use of PTO for paid sick leave purposes.
If an employer fails to maintain records or make them available to the DLWD, there is a presumption that the employer failed to provide paid sick leave absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
School officials should consult with their board attorney to insure they are in compliance with this new law.