Paid Sick Leave is Gaining Momentum in New Jersey
Trenton and Montclair became the latest New Jersey municipalities to approve paid sick leave laws in 2014. The issue was put before voters on Election Day and was approved by a comfortable margin in both cities. The Trenton and Montclair ordinances, which will take effect on March 4, 2015, are part of a growing trend in the state of New Jersey which began last year when Jersey City became the first municipality in the State to pass such a law. In early 2014, Newark followed suit with a similar law. Thereafter, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, and Irvington have all passed paid sick leave laws scheduled to take effect between December 31, 2014 and January 7, 2015. In addition, a bill is pending in the New Jersey State Legislature which would, if passed, make paid sick leave a statewide law.
Trenton and Montclair’s New Laws
Both Trenton and Montclair’s sick leave laws closely follow the Newark law and require that, with limited exception, employers with ten or more employees in those locations provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year. Smaller employers with less than ten employees also must provide sick time, but only up to 24 hours. Under the law, employees accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees shall begin to accrue sick time at the start of their employment or on the effective date of the law – whichever is sooner – and may begin using the paid time after 90 days of employment. The paid sick time may be used for the following reasons:
- The employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition or the employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of his/her own health condition;
- The employee’s need to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or who needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or care of same; or who needs preventive medical care;
- The employee’s place of business is closed due to a public health emergency; or an employee’s child’s school or place of care has been closed due to a public health emergency; or to care for a family member who may have been exposed to a communicable disease.
Lastly, the Trenton and Montclair laws require employers to provide written notice to all current employees as soon as practicable and to all new employees upon hire. In addition, employers must display a poster in each business establishment in a conspicuous and accessible place. Postings are expected to be made available by each city’s Department of Health and Human Services. Employers who violate the ordinance shall be subject to a fine and payment of restitution in the amount of any paid sick time not properly paid.
Statewide Paid Sick Leave Bill
With the increasing number of municipalities mandating paid sick leave in New Jersey, it should come as no surprise that statewide paid sick leave legislation was introduced in February 2014 and reported on favorably, but with amendments, by the Assembly Labor Committee in October 2014. While it is impossible to predict whether New Jersey will pass a statewide paid sick leave law, supporters of the law currently have momentum on their side.
Employers in Trenton and Montclair should review their policies and practices regarding available paid time off to ensure that they will be in compliance with the new law by March 2015. In addition, employers must comply with the posting and distribution requirements. For answers to questions regarding these or other paid sick leave laws, please feel free to contact an attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department.