NJ sick leave law covers more than just the sick
New Jersey's paid sick leave law, which takes effect Monday, does not only apply to workers dealing with an illness or injury.
The act also permits employees to use the time they've earned if they — or a family member — becomes a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, and they'd like to access treatment and services related to the incident.
"This is a critically important part of the law that should not be overlooked," said Debra Lancaster, executive director of the Rutgers Center for Women and Work.
According to state statistics, police reported more than 63,000 domestic violence offenses in 2016, a 3 percent increase over the previous year. The state also saw 52 murders involving domestic violence.
The FBI recognizes sexual assault as the most underreported crime.
"You may not see a bruise or scar on someone, but they may be suffering on the inside and need the time to take care of themselves or loved ones," Lancaster said.
One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, Lancaster said. Its effects can carry over into the workplace, in the form of diminished productivity and lost wages.
"Employers are an important ally in mitigating the impact of domestic violence, and this law provides some structure for that," she said.
The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act grants workers — even part-timers — one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers can earn up to 40 hours in one year, under the law.