Earned Sick Leave vs. New Jersey TDB: Which Should Your Employees Take?

When it comes to employee benefits like New Jersey TDB vs. earned sick leave in NJ, the regulations can get confusing for small business owners and HR directors, alike. When you add in the option for Federal COVID leave, HR directors may not know how to properly allocate paid time off vs. other employee benefits like New Jersey disability insurance.

Although EZTDB specializes in helping business owners in every industry save money on New Jersey TDB benefits, we also strive to be a trusted resource when it comes to other employee benefits and paid leave, including FLI (Family Leave Insurance) in New Jersey.

Benefits and PTO has changed dramatically amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, with more options to manage and to understand than ever before.

For your reference and information, EZTDB provides your guide to sick leave and New Jersey disability insurance claims in the time of Covid-19.

Earned Sick Leave: New Jersey Law

New Jersey business owners of any size in every industry must provide all employees, including full-time, part-time, and temporary W-2 employees, with 40 hours of earned sick leave per year.

Employees can request earned sick leave to care for themselves or a loved one. For purposes of Earned Sick Leave, the state of New Jersey adheres to a broad definition of “loved one,” including any individual whose close relationship with the employee is akin to family.

Employees accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per benefit year. Your employer may also opt to provide you with 40 hours of leave upfront.

Employers cannot:

  • Require you to find a replacement to work for you when you take earned sick leave
  • Pay you less than your regular hourly rate or, if paid by commission or tips, less than the state minimum wage
  • Mandate that you work extra hours in lieu of earned sick leave
  • Force you to take earned sick leave

Employees can take earned sick leave for virtually any reason, including time off for mental health or issues related to domestic violence. They can use it to take care of themselves if they are ill or injured, or to take care of a loved one. They can also use it to take care of Covid-related needs, such as:

  • A recommended quarantine, including quarantine after travel to certain states
  • Covid-19 testing
  • Covid-19 vaccination
  • Taking care of children who are doing state-mandated remote learning or quarantining

Keep in mind, earned sick leave is not just for Covid-related situations. You can take earned sick leave for a child’s school-related meeting, conference, or event or for any illness or injury of your own or a loved one, as well as reasons of domestic violence or mental health, according to the state Department of Labor.  

When to Take New Jersey TDB or Make a Family Leave Insurance Claim

Earned sick leave is for illnesses and injuries with a short duration, whether Covid-related or not. If an employee requires more than 40 hours of paid time off for illness or injuries not related to Covid-19, they must consider filing a claim under New Jersey TDB laws. You can read the benefits associated with this statutory leave here.  

Employees caring for a loved one with a serious illness or injury or bonding with a newborn, foster child, or adopted child within the first year, they can make an FLI claim.

Can Employees Still Take PTO Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which granted extended leave for employees in businesses with over 500 employees, expired December 31, 2020. Whether it will be re-introduced under the Biden administration remains to be seen.

However, the newest legislation that passed at the end of December left it up to employers to determine if they wanted to provide FFCRA leave for reasons related to Covid, including quarantine, illness, or children home for remote learning. Employers with more than 500 employees may qualify for an FFCRA tax credit through March 31, 2021.

Under the original FFCRA legislation signed in 2020, employees may qualify for:

  • Up to 80 hours paid sick leave at their regular rate of pay for Covid-19 systems or quarantine
  • Up to 80 hours paid sick leave at 2/3 pay to care for a loved one ill and/or under quarantine, or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or engaged in remote learning due to the pandemic

Employees who have worked within an organization for 30 or more days are eligible to receive an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave to oversee a child who is not attending in-person school or day care.

If an employee or loved one is ill from COVID-19 and the employer does not offer FFCRA leave, the employee can file a claim for New Jersey TDB. At this time, TDB does not cover leave for quarantine or to oversee children over the age of 1 (unless newly adopted or fostered) who are engaged in distance or remote learning.

With all the mandatory benefits New Jersey businesses must provide in 2021, it’s important to save money wherever you can. You can shave 20% or more off your New Jersey TDB premiums with a private plan. Reach out today for your free quote from the insurance specialists at EZTDB.