Jersey City Business Owners Must Provide Paid Sick Time

On September 25, 2013, Jersey City became the first municipality in the state of New Jersey to pass legislation mandating that businesses provide paid sick time to their employees. Jersey City joins San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., and New York City. The city of Newark, New Jersey is also considering similar sick time legislation.

Beginning on January 24, 2014, businesses in Jersey City with 10 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time to each employee each year, including part-time and temporary employees.  Under the ordinance, an employee accrues one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked beginning on the first day of employment. However, employees may not use sick time until after completing 90 days of employment. Employees may use the sick time for their own health care or the care of a family member. Employers who already have a paid leave policy in place that provides at least an equal amount of paid leave as required by the ordinance are not required to provide additional paid sick time.

Major requirements of the law include:

  • Paid sick time is carried over to the next calendar year, but an employer need not carry over more than 40 hours of sick time in any calendar year, and employees may only use 40 hours of sick time in any calendar year, regardless of carryover.
  • Employers are not required to pay out accrued but unused sick time at the time of an employee’s separation from employment.
  • Employees must provide only oral notice to their Employer of their need to use sick time “as soon as practicable.”
  • Employers may not require an employee using sick time to find a replacement worker to cover his or her shift.
  • Sick time may be used in the smaller of hourly increments or the smallest increment that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time.
  • Employers may require reasonable documentation from the employee for sick time of more than 3 consecutive days.
  • The ordinance prohibits retaliation against employees for using sick time.
  • Use of paid sick time may not count as an absence for purposes of discipline or any other adverse action.

The ordinance also requires Employers to provide written notice to new hires, to display a poster approved by the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, and to retain records of employee pay and sick time usage for three years. The ordinance prohibits retaliation, and Employers found in violation of the ordinance can face a fine of up to $1,250 and/or up to 90 days of community service per violation. Employees who feel their employer has violated the ordinance may complain to the Department of Health and Human Services and/or may bring a cause of action in a court of competent jurisdiction.

For more information on the new ordinance, or for information on paid sick time laws in other jurisdictions, please contact John R. Vreeland, jvreeland@nullgenovaburns.com or Rebecca Fink, rfink@nullgenovaburns.com, in the firm’s Labor Group.