Like many workers in New Jersey, you might have a family member or spouse who is temporarily or permanently disabled. A serious injury, debilitating illness, or childbirth could create a situation in which a loved one needs help getting through the day.
Fortunately, state and federal laws enable you to take time off from work to care for a loved one. You cannot take a permanent leave, but you could take a significant amount of time off from work to care for your loved one and still have a job upon your return.
Family Medical Leave Act Protects Workers Who Care for Loved Ones
If your employer has at least 50 employees, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) might enable you to take up to 12 weeks off work to care for a loved one.
You would not be paid for your time away from work and could take up to 12 weeks off per benefit year. If your loved one suffered a serious injury or illness due to military service, the federal FMLA law requires your employer to give you up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave.
New Jersey also has an FMLA law that allows you to take off up to 12 weeks to care for a loved one. The state law allows you 12 weeks every 24 months.
Earned Sick Leave Law Offers Paid Time Off to Care for a Loved One
Whether you work full time or part time, New Jersey’s earned sick leave law requires your employer to provide you with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave. The law even applies to temporary workers.
The only exceptions to New Jersey’s earned sick leave law are:
- Construction industry workers who have a union contract.
- Healthcare employees who are paid per diem.
- Public employees who already receive paid sick leave.
- Independent contractors who do not qualify as “employees” per state law.
You might have a loved one who needs assistance due to a medical condition or disability. If so, your New Jersey employer must provide you with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave. That will help you to care for a loved one without losing pay for up to a week of full-time work.
How Earned Sick Leave Accrues in New Jersey?
If you qualify for earned sick leave, New Jersey requires your employer to provide you with one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours that you work. The earned sick leave is limited to no more than 40 hours per benefit year.
Full-time workers who put in 40 hours per week earn 5.33 hours of earned sick pay every four weeks. Your employer determines when your benefit year begins and ends. The employer must provide you with a regularly occurring benefit year.
You can carry over the accrued paid sick leave, but you cannot accrue more than 40 hours per benefit year. If you earned 40 hours of paid sick leave and did not use them, the 40 hours carry over to the new benefit year.
Your employer can offer to pay you for your unused earned sick leave at the end of the benefit year. But the employer is not required to do so. Your employer also could allow you to take unpaid sick leave without expending any of the earned benefit.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help Workers to Exercise Their Right to Care for Loved Ones
If your employer wrongly denied your request for FMLA or earned sick leave, our experienced Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass can help to uphold your rights. You can call us at 856-751-5505 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey. We represent clients in Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, and throughout New Jersey.