Legislation signed into law last May will finally have an impact next week when student workers across New Jersey will become eligible to utilize paid sick leave for the first time in the state.
The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Act will make New Jersey the 10th state to enact a statewide mandatory paid sick leave law, which will require employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to covered employees and mandates that workers accrue at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.
According to a memo sent out to student workers by Seton Hall’s Human Resources Department, “student workers who were employed prior to Oct. 29, 2018, began to accrue paid sick leave on Oct. 29, 2018 and, after completing a waiting period, will be able to use the paid sick leave starting Feb. 26, 2019.” Student workers who began work after Oct. 29 will have to wait 120 days before they can use any of their accrued sick leave.
According to Seton Hall’s Earned Sick Leave policy, now available on the university website, students will be able to use leave for “time needed for diagnosis, care, or treatment of, or recovery from, an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other adverse health condition, or for preventive medical care for the employee” as well as for the care of a family member for the same purposes. The act also covers time needed due to circumstances resulting from an employee or family member being a victim of domestic or sexual violence.
Terri Demarest, director of compensation, benefits, and employment in the Seton Hall Department of Human Resources, said in an email to The Setonian that the University recognizes employees may need time off for illness and other various circumstances.
“The university provides paid sick leave to all employees to guard against loss of earnings,” Demarest said. “Additional information regarding the University policy, and how it applies to employees, including student workers, can be found on the University website.”
Frank Mabalatan, a sophomore peer advisor, welcomes the change. “It shows that student workers are starting to be recognized as workers,” Mabalatan said. “They should be respected as they are just as valid as any other functional member of society.”
Seva Tsivgas, a junior Blue Crew member, echoed a similar sentiment celebrating the new policy.
“I’ve only been a student worker for a month, so I actually didn’t even know that [the policy existed],” said Tsivgas. “But I’ve always appreciated how the administrators treat us as student workers, they always make it clear that school comes first, and allow us flexibility in our jobs, so it’s really nice to hear that they [now will] provide us paid sick leave.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at email@example.com. You can also find him on Twitter @NickKerr99.