New Jersey Clarifies Used of Paid Sick Leave

Through new regulations, New Jersey clarified the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (NJESLL).

To comply with the law, an employer’s paid time off (PTO) policy must allow an employee to use all PTO for reasons covered by the ESLL, permit employees to use the time off as required by the NJESLL, pay for sick time, and provide for payout or carryover of PTO.

The regulations also specify how the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) interacts with the NJESLL. The FMLA permits an employer to require an employee to exhaust paid sick leave before using unpaid FMLA leave. But the NJESLL outlaws an employer from making an employee use accrued sick leave. Consequently, under the NJESLL, an employer’s FMLA policy can no longer require an employee to exhaust paid sick time before taking FMLA leave.

These regulations provide welcome protection of an employee’s sick time. Until the NJESLL, the law did not govern how an employer could treat sick leave. With these clarifications to the NJESLL, employees now enjoy greater use protection of their PTO to take off time for themselves when they fall ill but do not need a longer term medical leave of absence.