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AASP-NJ event draws attention to state’s sick leave, family leave setups

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New Jersey collision repairers last month received some info on the state’s sick leave law and Family Leave Insurance as the AASP-NJ hosted David Bander, executive director of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Here’s some of the highlights of the law and/or the presentation, courtesy of the state and an Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey news release last week. AASP-NJ members who didn’t make the presentation can still obtain copies of materials Bander shared with the organization.

As we noted with a recent roundup of California laws, the news might be relevant to repairers outside of New Jersey too. Regulators and lawmakers might get inspired by what’s happening in the Garden State.

“There has been an explosion of activity over the past two years under the Murphy administration,” Bander said Jan. 15, according to the AASP-NJ. “We’ve seen things like the minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, wage theft law and the equal pay act. All of these important laws affect you as employers and there is probably more to come.”

Earned Sick Leave Law

According to the AASP-NJ, the Earned Sick Leave Law “applies to nearly every employer in New Jersey.” It kicked in Oct. 29, 2018. There’s no size restriction — i.e., small shops’ employees are eligible.

“If you are an employee working in New Jersey, you are covered by the Earned Sick Leave Law,” Bander said, according to the AASP-NJ. “It provides employees with time to care for themselves or family members, and employers have to ensure that their policies at least meet the minimum [sick leave] required [by the law].”

The DOL says employees earn an hour of paid sick leave every 30 hours they work. An employer must grant a minimum of 40 hours of earned sick leave.

According to the New Jersey Administrative Code, an employer would calculate sick leave pay for a piece-rate staffer as follows:

(f) When an employee is paid on a piecework basis, whether base wage plus piecework or piecework only, to calculate the employee’s rate of pay for earned sick leave, the employer shall add together the employee’s total earnings for the seven most recent workdays when the employee did not take leave and divide that sum by the number of hours the employee spent performing the work during workdays.

1. When doing this calculation, the employer shall consider workdays to mean the days or parts of days the employee worked. (Minor formatting edits.)

Employers might want to have employees sign timecards. According to the AASP-NJ:

One shop owner expressed interest in having employees sign timecards at the end of the week, which Bander agreed was a good idea, as the document could serve as evidence if there was ever an investigation.

“It shows that not only did you pay your employees, but you had them sign and acknowledge. You are playing by the rules,” said Bander.

Family Leave Insurance

The state in July 2020 will boost paid Family Leave Insurance benefits to 85 percent of weekly salary, up to a maximum of $881 per week, and permit up to 12 weeks to be collected.

To qualify to receive the benefits, employees must have put in 20 weeks of work at $200 per week in the first four of the five quarters before the leave begins, according to the DOL.

Starting January 1, 2020, each worker contributes 0.16% of the wage cap. For 2020, the wage cap is the first $134,900 in covered wages earned during this calendar year, and the maximum yearly deduction for Family Leave Insurance is $215.84.

The pay isn’t incurred by the business owner; instead, it comes from deductions the state takes out of employee checks. Employees will pay 0.16 percent of the $134,900 wage cap in 2020, with a maximum annual contribution of $215.54.

Employers can’t retaliate against a staffer for executing their right to the family leave insurance benefits, but they don’t have to hold onto the employee’s job if the business is below a certain size, according to the New Jersey DOL.

However, any company with 30 or more employees is bound by the New Jersey Family Leave Act to give a employee 12 weeks of “unpaid, job-protected leave to care for loved ones” meeting certain criteria, according to a state presentation. The employee must have worked 1,000 hours in the year prior to the leave.

More information:

“Shop Owners Receive Employment Law Updates at AASP/NJ Meeting”

Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey, Jan. 29, 2020

New Jersey “myLeaveBenefits” website

New Jersey Earned Sick Leave portal

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Jan. 1, 2019

Featured image: The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey hosted David Bander, executive director of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, on Jan. 15, 2020. (Provided by AASP-NJ, Greco Publishing)

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