Tag Archives: sick leave

Municipal Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

By the Employment Group

One of the more remarkable developments in New Jersey employment law in recent years has been the emergence of city ordinances requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to employees who work in those cities.   These ordinances have been passed in reaction to the failure of the Governor and State Legislature to enact a statewide paid leave statute.  To date, eleven cities have adopted such laws:  Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Montclair, Newark, New Brunswick, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton.

While there are differences between them, the ordinances are all substantially similar and require most employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 to 35 hours worked, up to a maximum of  40 hours per year.  Most of our clients offer at least that much paid sick leave to employees.  However, it is important to know that the ordinances were designed to ensure that paid leave is available to workers at the very bottom of the wage scale.  As such, employees only need to work 80 hours in a year to qualify for some paid leave, which may conflict with your policy on paid time off accrual.   Furthermore, the ordinances require employers to allow employees to “bank” up to 40 hours of paid sick leave for use in future years, which may also conflict with your policy.  Please let us know if you would like us to analyze your policies to ensure compliance with the ordinances in any of the cities where you have operations.

Municipalities have very limited authority to fashion civil remedies for violations of ordinances.  Thus, the paid sick leave ordinances impose quasi-criminal sanctions for violations of paid leave requirements, subjecting employers and employer representatives to fines and potentially even jail time.   Cases are to be brought in municipal courts.

These new ordinances raise many issues and undoubtedly there will be court challenges to their enforceability and perhaps constitutionality.   One important concern is the degree to which municipal courts, certainly not accustomed to such matters, will be asked to weigh in on the question of whether independent contractors are in fact statutory employees entitled to paid leave.  Another issue is whether employees who believe that they were discharged for complaining about the failure to provide paid sick leave will be able to use the ordinances to claim that their terminations were in violation of public policy, thereby providing them with a Superior Court wrongful discharge remedy.   Perhaps most alarmingly, it is possible that cities and towns will now attempt to regulate other aspects of the employee/employer relationship, thus creating numerous new, and possibly even conflicting, standards that will have to be learned and followed.

It is expected that unless the State Legislature acts to pass a statewide paid sick leave law, other cities and perhaps smaller towns will pass such ordinances.   Even if your operations are not covered by a paid sick leave ordinance today, they may be soon.

We are of course available to answer any questions you have about the paid sick leave ordinances.  If you would like a copy of any of the ordinances, please let us know.

Samuel Samaro
Maxiel Gomez
James Boyan



Update on Mandatory Paid Sick Leave in New Jersey

By Eleanor Lipsky, Esq.

Paid sick leave has traditionally been a benefit employers could voluntarily select to provide, and often only for certain employees.  However, employers should be aware that an increasing number of states and cities have begun mandating that employers provide paid sick leave to some extent.   Further, in the recent State of the Union address, the Obama Administration made it clear that it is taking steps to provide nation-wide access to paid sick leave by calling on Congress, the States, and cities to pass more of such legislation.

In 2014, the New Jersey State Assembly introduced and amended a bill entitling all employees, including part-time employees, to receive paid sick leave.   Under the bill, businesses with 10 or more employees would be required to let workers earn up to 72 hours of paid time off that they could use either when they are sick or to take care of sick relatives.  Businesses with less than 10 employees would be required to allow 40 hours of sick leave.  Under the bill, for every 30 hours worked, the employee would accrue one hour of earned sick leave, though the amount accrued does not have to carry forward from one year to the next.  While the bill is considered a pro-worker and pro-health policy measure, critics have noted that the bill does not yet address issues employers might have with seasonal employees, along with the increased cost to employers.  However, others argue business owners have an incentive to keep employees happy and healthy.

This state bill was introduced in light of a trend among some New Jersey communities that have already adopted similar sick paid leave rules locally.  So far, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, and Montclair have all approved their own paid sick leave laws in 2014.  Many of these recent municipal ordinances became effective on January 1, 2015.  Notably, the state bill would not preempt some of these more generous municipal laws.



What NYC Employers Should Know about Paid Sick Time Requirements

By CJ Griffin, Esq.

Recently, the New York City Earned Sick Time Act went into effect and employers who have NYC locations or employees who perform work in NYC must now provide paid sick leave to their employees.

The Act requires that employers with five or more employees who perform work in New York City at least 80 hours during a calendar year must provide those employees with 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year.  Employers with fewer than five employees must offer at least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave each calendar year.  The Act allows the employer to define its calendar year, so long as employees are given the allotted sick time within a 12-month period.

The Act allows employees to carryover up to 40 hours of sick time to the next year, but employers are only required to allow the employee to use 40 hours of sick time per a year.  Employers can choose to compensate employees at their regular rate for unused sick time, but are not required to do so.  If employers do compensate the employee, then the employee is no longer entitled to carry that unused sick time over to the next year.

Finally, the Act prohibits an employer from making any threat, discipline, discharge, demotion, suspension, or reduction in an employee’s hours, or any other adverse employment action against an employee who exercises or attempts to exercise his or her right to sick time under the Act.

Employers must be aware that they are required to give written notice to their employees of their right to sick leave, including accrual and use of sick leave, the right to file a complaint, and the right to be free from retaliation. The written notice must be given to each employee on his or her first day of employment and must also be posted in the workplace.  The notice must state the employer’s calendar year, including start date and end date, and be given to employees in their primary language.  Employers can find sample notices available at http://www.nyc.gov/PaidSickLeave.