Starting next February, students working on campus will be able to earn paid sick leave under the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act.
The act stipulated that employees must be notified of the new policy by Nov. 29. On Nov. 21, the University emailed students working hourly jobs on campus informing them that they will start accruing paid sick leave at a rate of one paid hour of leave every 30 hours worked.
“By providing compensated sick time, the new paid sick leave policy should provide additional flexibility for hourly student employees,” explained University spokesperson Ben Chang.
The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act was adopted by the 218th New Jersey State Legislature on March 12, 2018. The act was sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (District 6), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (District 33), Assemblyman Jerry Green (District 22), Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (District 35), Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter (District 35), and Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (District 4).
However, few University students will claim much paid sick leave since most students work part-time jobs with hours that are unlikely to accumulate to an amount sufficient for paid leave.
“Even though I don’t think I personally will use [the new policy], and I haven’t had a situation where that has come up, I think that it’s a very useful and important rule,” Isaac Wolfe ’20 said.
Wolfe explained that this new rule could be crucial for other students who rely a lot more on campus jobs for day-to-day expenses.
For Krystal Delnoce, ‘21, who said she is first-generation low-income (FLI) student who works at Dillon Gymnasium as a children’s swim instructor and at Murray-Dodge cafe, the rule may come in handy. She said that she has previously found it difficult to take time off from her jobs when she was ill.
“I teach swim lessons, and I’ll be the only instructor teaching three or four kids, so if I don’t show up, who teaches them?” Delnoce said.
She explained that she became suddenly ill last semester and received little sympathy from her supervisors when trying to find someone to cover her shifts.
“You would get into trouble if you don’t find somebody to cover your shifts,” Delnoce said. “You sometimes have to push through and it’s not always good for the safety of everyone involved.”
However, Delnoce worried that she might face repercussions for taking advantage of any paid sick leave she might accumulate, especially when it comes to promotions.
“If I take paid sick leave and … somebody has to scramble [to fill in for me], will that negatively impact me even though I was well within my rights to take that sick leave?” she wondered.
These worries are addressed by the New Jersey Notice of Employee Rights: Employers cannot retaliate against employees for requesting or using earned sick leave. Retaliation includes reduced hours, demotion, or suspension.
Wolfe added, “I’m thankful for whoever instituted [this policy].”