Paid and Unpaid Time Off From Work

Vacation, Sick, Holiday and Personal Time

Paid and Unpaid Time Off From WorkWhile it is not necessarily legally required, most employers provide their employees paid time off (or “PTO”) including vacation days, holidays, sick leave and personal time off. Employers typically describe their paid time off policies in their employee handbooks, individual employment contracts, offer letters or union collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

In addition, a number of cities and towns have passed local ordinances that require certain employers to provide a limited amount of paid sick leave to their employees. For more information, please see our Blog articles about the New York City Earned Sick Leave Act, the Newark Paid Sick Leave Law, Jersey City Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and the fact that a Growing Number of Municipalities in New Jersey Require Paid Sick Leave.

Payments for Unused Time Off

Employees often wonder whether they are entitled to be paid for their unused accrued time off when they leave their jobs. If you have an agreement with your employer about your paid time off, then your company is required to honor it. Likewise, if your company has a policy, it must follow it.

But what if there is no agreement or policy that indicates whether you are entitled to be paid for your unused time off? The answer depends on whether you work in New Jersey or New York.

If you work in New York, then you are entitled to be paid for accrued unused paid time off unless the employer states otherwise in writing. But if you work in New Jersey your employer probably is not required to pay you for any unused paid time off unless there is a contract or policy requiring it to do so.

Laws Permitting Sick Time and Medical Leaves

Numerous laws in New Jersey and New York law require employers to permit their employees to take time off for an illness or disability. A few key examples are listed below. Most of these laws do not require employers to pay employees during these leaves, but the employees are permitted to use any vacation, sick or personal time they have accrued.

Family & Medical Leave Act

Under the Family & Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 months off per year for (1) pregnancy, childbirth, or adoption or (2) to care for (a) their own serious health condition, (b) an immediate family member with a serious health condition or (c) a newborn or newly adopted child within the first 12 months.

New Jersey Family Leave Act

Similarly, under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks off every two years to care for (1) an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or (2) a newborn child within the first year after birth or adoption.

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities

If you have a physical or mental disability, you may be entitled to take time off from work as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL) and/or the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Jury Duty Leave

In New Jersey, all employees are entitled to time off for jury duty leave. Most employers are not required to pay their employees during a jury duty leave. However, full-time employees who work for the state or local government are entitled to be paid their normal salary.

In New York, all employees are entitled to time off for jury duty. Employees who work for companies with at least 10 employees are entitled to a minimum of $40 per day for the first 3 days of jury service. Other employers are not required to pay employees while they are on jury duty leave.

Victims of Crimes

Under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act, employees have the right to take up to 20 days of unpaid time off necessary because they or a member of their immediate family has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. Similarly, in New York employees are entitled to take time off to testify as a victim of a crime, or because they received a subpoena requiring them to testify in a criminal proceeding.

Other Laws Permitting Time Off From Work
  • New York’s Employee Blood Donation Leave Law: Companies with 20 or more employees must permit their employees to take up to 3 hours off work per year to donate blood, or permit employees to donate blood to donate blood at the workplace at least twice a year without using paid time off.
  • New York State Election Law: Employers must pay employees for up to two hours if the employee is unable to vote outside of working hours.

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