While Delaware does not have laws that pertain to paid sick leave, two of our neighbors have recently enacted their own laws on this subject. Maryland and New Jersey have both created new sick leave policies affecting most employees who work in their states.
New Jersey’s new law just went into effect on October 29, 2018. Most employees are covered by the new rules. Exceptions include people working in the construction industry with a collective bargaining agreement, per diem health care workers, and public employees provided with sick leave with full pay pursuant to any other law, rule, or regulation.
Sick leave can be used for employees’ or employees’ family members’ diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery from mental or physical illness, including preventative care. It can also be used for circumstances related to the employee’s or family member’s status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence. Employees can also use time for matters pertaining to closure of their workplace or their child’s school or childcare because of a public health emergency, and time to attend meetings requested or required by a school to discuss their child’s health condition.
Employees can begin using accrued sick leave beginning on the 120th calendar day after the employee commences employment. Employers have a choice in how they choose to award employees sick leave. Employees can accrue 1 hour for every 30 hours worked or employers can provide full earned sick leave up front at the start of the benefit year. Employees are entitled to at least 40 hours of paid sick leave, annually.
Employers may, but are not required to, pay employees for accrued but unused sick time in the final month of the benefit year. If an employer frontloads the sick time, they must pay out the full amount of accrued but unused sick time in final month of benefit year or carry over any unused sick time to the next benefit year.
Upon termination, employers are not required to pay out accrued but unused sick leave unless the employer has a policy or collective bargaining agreement requiring that they do so.
In February of this year Maryland enacted new laws pertaining to paid sick leave. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide the benefit. Employees working 12 or more hours a week earn paid sick leave. Employers with 14 or fewer employees must provide sick leave, but it does not have to be paid.
Sick leave can be used for taking care of an employee’s or a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury, parental leave, or issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Maryland also uses a much broader definition of family member than the FMLA. Employees may use their sick leave to care for grandparents, siblings, foster children, or stepsiblings.
Employees can begin using accrued sick leave beginning on the 106th calendar day after they are hired. Employees earn 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees are entitled to at least 40 hours of paid sick leave. At least 40 hours of that sick leave can be carried over to the next year, but employers can cap annual leave at 64 hours. Employers are not required to pay out accrued but unused sick time upon termination of employment, unless they otherwise commit to doing so.
If you do business in one of these states and you think your policy needs to be updated, make sure you get timely legal counsel, to ensure compliance.