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Gov. Phil Murphy kept a campaign promise when he signed a law that would guarantee people who work in New Jersey would be able to take an occasional sick day without losing any pay.

New Jersey became the 10th state in the nation to enact paid sick leave legislation.

Karen White, director for Policy Analysis and Community Engagement for the Rutgers Center for Women and Work at the School of Management and Labor Relations explains what the law says, when it takes effect and what it means for the public.

Here\\\'s what you need to know:

When will the law take effect?

A: The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave law signed by Governor Murphy on May 2, 2018 will go into effect in October, 180 days after enactment. At that time, employees will begin to accrue leave. The accrual rate is one hour per 30 worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours in one year. Employees will be eligible to use the accrued leave 120 days later. For employees hired after the effective date of the law, benefits will begin to accrue immediately and they will be eligible to use the leave after 120 days. However, employers may agree to an earlier date.

Under what circumstances may I take a sick day?

Employees may use earned sick days for:

  • Their own health needs or that of a family member, defined in the law as a “child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent, or grandparent or any other individual related by blood to the employee or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”;
  • Issues resulting from an employee (or family member of employee) being a victim of domestic or sexual violence, including medical attention necessary for physical or physical or psychological injury; obtaining services from a designated domestic violence agency or other victim services organization; relocation; or legal services, including participation in any related legal proceeding;
  • Closure of the employee\\\'s workplace, school, or childcare due to a public health emergency; 
  • A child\\\'s school-related conference, meeting, function, or other event
Do I have to show a doctor\\\'s note?

Employers may require “reasonable documentation” for absences of three or more days. Documentation depends on the type of absence and is spelled out in the law.

Is every worker entitled to sick pay?

There are a few categories of workers not covered by the law. It does not include employees in a collective bargaining agreement in the construction industry, per diem health care workers, or public employees provided sick leave pursuant to any other law, rule, or regulation in New Jersey. 

If I do not use my sick time one year, does it carry over into the next year?

The new law provides that employee sick leave does not accumulate beyond 40 hours in any one-year period. The law provides that you may carry forward unused time from one year to the next as long as your accrued time does not exceed 40 hours. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which has oversight and responsibility for implementation and enforcement of the new law, will develop regulations that spell out how this will be implemented and enforced.

What happens if my employer does not comply?

There are strong provisions in the law to address employer non-compliance. The process by which an employee can use these provisions to report non-compliance will be outlined in the forthcoming regulations.