PAID SICK LEAVE IS HERE TO STAY – Carlin & Ward
PAID SICK LEAVE IS HERE TO STAY
In September of 2013 Jersey City became the first city in New Jersey to approve a municipal ordinance requiring its locally based business owners to provide employees with paid sick time.
The Jersey City law went into effect in January of 2014 and since then 9 other towns in New Jersey have passed similar laws. They include Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Newark, Paterson, Trenton and, most recently, Elizabeth whose law took effect on March 2, 2016.
The laws, which are generally similar in nature, require employers of all sizes to provide sick leave. While there are exceptions, generally speaking employees working for employers with 10 or more employees accrue paid sick leave, while those employed by companies with less than 10 employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave. Jersey City, however, recently expanded its ordinance so that even companies with less than 10 employees must now provide employees with a combination of paid and unpaid sick leave.
At the same time that cities and towns in New Jersey are passing laws of their own, the state legislature also has the subject of paid sick leave under consideration. A bill was introduced in the assembly but has so far not progressed beyond committee. Some employers view this favorably, while others who see paid sick leave as an eventual reality say they would prefer one uniform state law to the hodge podge of local ordinances that is developing and which not only affects locally owned businesses, but employers located outside of the municipality. Thus, for example, the Jersey City ordinance provides coverage
to “Employees who work in Jersey City for at least eighty (80) hours in a calendar year.” Under this scenario a company based in Morristown (which does not have a paid sick leave law) but which sends employees to work in Jersey City on a regular or even semi-regular basis, must maintain time records that will comply with the Jersey City ordinance. This would be in addition to the time keeping requirements required by state and federal law. As with other state and federal wage and hour laws, it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain adequate time and attendance records.
All of the municipal ordinances in question contain many provisions beyond just who is covered and for how many hours. These include how sick time is accrued, when it begins to accrue, what can it be used for, whether it carries over into the next year, and employee rights upon termination, to name a few. Employers in affected municipalities should be certain to review the laws and take steps to ensure compliance with their requirements.
Lawrence Z. Kotler, Esq.
Carlin & Ward, P.C.