How much paid sick leave are NJ employees entitled to?

Do your paid-time-off (“PTO”) policies conform to The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act? Keep reading to find out.

New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours an employee works in New Jersey, up to 40 hours per benefit year. While accrual of paid sick leave begins on an employee’s start date, you may require them to wait 120 calendar days after their start date before using it.

Earned sick time may be used for the following reasons:

  • Diagnosis, care or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s own mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care, COVID-19 testing, quarantine, or vaccination;
  • Aid or care for a covered family member during the diagnosis, care or treatment of, or recovery from, the family member’s mental or physical illness, including preventive medical care, COVID-19 testing, quarantine, or vaccination;
  • Circumstances related to an employee’s or his or her family member’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence, including the need to obtain related medical treatment, seek counseling, relocate, or participate in related legal services;
  • Closure of an employee’s workplace or of a school or childcare of an employee’s child because of a public official’s order due to a public health emergency. Mandatory remote learning, a school or childcare closure for cleaning or other coronavirus preparation is an allowable use of earned sick leave; and
  • Time to attend an employee’s child’s school-related conference or to attend a meeting regarding care provided to the child in connection with the child’s health conditions or disability.

The Act broadly defines “family member” to include individuals related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

What’s good for employers:

  • Uniformity throughout the state – all 13 local ordinances are preempted by the state law.
  • Excluded are employees in the construction industry with a collective bargaining agreement, per diem healthcare employees, and public employees who already have sick leave benefits.
  • Existing PTO policies that provide at least 40 hours per benefit year of paid time off for illness, vacation or personal reasons, and accrue at the same rate or greater than one hour for every 30 worked, may be used to satisfy the requirements of the Paid Sick Leave Act.
  • The employer may choose when to start and end its benefit year, for example, October 29 to October 28, or January 1 to December 31.
  • The employer may choose whether to “front load” the full 40 hours at the beginning of each benefit year, or require the employee to accrue the hours before using them.
  • If employees earn the hours on an accrual basis, the employer may offer to pay out either 50 percent of the accrued, unused sick time at the end of the year and allow the employee to roll over 50 percent, or offer to pay out the full amount of the time with no roll over.
  • If sick time is front loaded, the employee must accept pay out of the full amount of accrued, unused sick time the last month of the year, or roll over of the full amount, at the employer’s discretion.
  • Even if the employer allows employees to roll over accrued, unused sick time from year to year, the maximum per year is still 40 hours.
  • Employers are not required to pay out accrued, unused sick time on employment termination.
  • Employers may choose the increments in which their employees may use accrued sick time, but no longer than the employee’s regular shift.
  • For foreseeable absences, employers may require up to seven days of advance notice of the intention to use paid sick leave and its expected duration.
  • For foreseeable absences, employers may require employees to make a reasonable effort to schedule use of sick leave in a way that does not unduly disrupt business operations.
  • For unforeseeable absences, employer may require notice as soon as practicable, provided employees are notified of this requirement.
  • Employers may require reasonable documentation if sick leave that is not foreseeable is used on certain prohibited dates.
  • Employers may require documentation that an employee used sick leave for a covered purpose after at least three consecutive days of absence.

What’s good for employees:

  • All employees – including part-timers, seasonal, and temporary – are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, provided they work the requisite number of hours.
  • All employers, regardless of size, are covered by this law, including temporary agencies.
  • Employers may not require an employee to find a replacement to cover the employee’s absence.
  • If employees earn the hours on an accrual basis, the employee may decline the employer’s offer of a payout of accrued, unused sick time, and instead roll over the time.
  • Accrued sick time carries over to related or successor employers.
  • If an employee is separated from employment and reinstated within six months, all of the employee’s accrued, unused sick time must be reinstated.

Best practices:

  • Review all sick leave and PTO policies, as well as employee handbooks, to ensure they comply with the Act.
  • If no such policies exist, provide the minimum sick leave required under the Act. We strongly recommend a written policy.
  • Inform managers, HR, operations and payroll professionals of the Act and have a system in place to comply with the Act.
  • Download, distribute and post the notice issued by the Department of Labor if you haven’t already done so.

Need more information?  Check out the Department of Labor’s FAQs.

Confused or need help rewriting your policy?  Call us at 973-787-8442 or email us at

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