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Paid and Unpaid Time Off From Work

Paid Sick Leave

Both New Jersey and New York City law entitle most employees to a minimum of at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. Sick leave can be used for many purposes, including for the employee's own diagnosis and treatment, or for a family member's diagnosis and treatment.

For additional information, please see our articles: New Jersey Enacts New Sick Leave Law and New York City Earned Sick Leave Act.

Paid Vacation, Holiday and Personal Time

Paid and Unpaid Time Off From WorkWhile it is not necessarily legally required, many employers provide their employees paid time off (or “PTO”), including vacation days, holidays and personal time off. Likewise, some employers provide more sick leave than the minimum required by law.

Employers typically describe their paid time off policies in their employee handbooks, individual employment contracts, offer letters or union collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs").

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 weeks off per year fora qualifying reason. Those reasons include: (1) pregnancy, childbirth, or adoption; and (2) to care for (a) the employee's own serious health condition, (b) an immediate family member's serious health condition, or (c) a newborn or newly adopted child within the first 12 months after the birth or adoption.

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. Employees can take time off pursuant to the NJFLA to care for (1) a family member with a serious health condition, or (2) a newborn child within the first year after the child's birth or adoption. However, unlike the FMLA, the NJFLA does not provide time off for an employee's own health conditions.

Reasonable Accommodations

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").

Likewise, you may be entitled to take time off as a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, or as a reasonable accommodation for a religious belief.

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 ("NJ SAFE 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 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.
Contact an Employment Lawyer

We welcome you to contact us if you have a question relating to your right to take time off from work, or another issue relating to your workplace rights. Our telephone number is (201) 777-2250. Our employment lawyers represent workers in both New Jersey and New York.

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.

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"I worked with Jonathan Nirenberg, ESQ on a sensitive emotional employment matter. Mr. Nirenberg was quick to respond, offered excellent advice, and always followed up with phone calls or emails when needed. My situation was settled out of court within a short period of time with the best possible results for not just me but also for the employer. Highly recommend and would seek his help again if needed..." Linda Busch, PhD
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