On March 14, 2016, the City of Plainfield became the 12th municipality in New Jersey to require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The paid sick leave, which ranges from 24 to 40 hours a year, can be used by employees for their own illness, to care for an ill family member, or to care for a child in the event of certain school closures. The law will take effect on July 12, 2016.
Amount of Sick Leave
Plainfield’s Sick Leave Law sets forth different obligations for small and large employers. Small employers, or those with less than 10 employees, must give a maximum of 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. Large employers, or those with 10 or more employees, must provide a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. All employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked each calendar year. Exceptions apply to child care, home health care, and food service workers, who are entitled to accrue a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave, despite the size of their employer.
Plainfield’s Paid Sick Leave Law entitles employees to carry over a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave from year to year. Despite this carry-over provision, an employer can limit the use of paid sick leave to just 40 hours a year. The Paid Sick Leave Law also contains two other significant provisions. First, if an employer already offers a paid time off policy that is just as generous as the new law, an employer need not provide additional leave. Second, the Paid Sick Leave Law does not require employers to pay employees for unused sick time upon termination of employment.
Eligibility For Paid Sick Leave
An employee must work 80 hours in a year to be eligible for paid sick leave. As to employer size, which dictates the amount of sick leave an employee can accrue (either 24 or 40 hours), an employer must count all employees performing work for compensation on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis. Employers with more than 10 employees, in total, will be considered a large employer. Those employers with a fluctuating number of employees should use the average number of employees employed during the preceding calendar year to determine size.
Use of Paid Sick Leave
Employees in Plainfield can use paid sick leave to care for themselves or a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition. This care includes time off for medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative medical care for a condition. It may also be used for the closure of the employee’s place of work, or the employee’s child’s school or place of care, due to a public health emergency or to care for a family member who has been exposed to a communicable disease. An employee may use paid sick leave in increments as small as the employer’s payroll system uses to account for other absences.
If an employee seeks to use sick time, and the need for the use is foreseeable, an employer may require seven days advance notice from the employee. If the need for paid sick leave is unforeseeable, an employer may require notice before the beginning of the employees’ shift, or in emergent circumstances, as soon as practicable. After an absence, an employer may also require the employee to submit written confirmation that the time used was in fact used for the purposes authorized under the Paid Sick Leave Law. Further, after three consecutive days or instances of sick leave, the employer may require documentation from a healthcare provider to confirm that the employee’s absence was necessary; the employer must not require details of the health condition or the nature of the illness.
Notice and Posting Requirements
Plainfield employers must provide written notice (available on the City’s website) to employees explaining their rights upon hire or, for current employees, as soon as practicable after July 12, 2016. Employers must also post the notice a conspicuous and accessible location at the work place. The notices must be in English and in any language that is the first language of at least 10% of the employer’s workforce.
Fines and Penalties
Penalties include a fine not exceeding $750 for each day of the violation, and restitution in the amount of any paid sick time unlawfully withheld. The Paid Sick Leave Law also prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee for taking leave or for interfering with the employee’s rights in connection with that law.
For more information regarding implementing Plainfield’s paid sick leave or how our business can develop a compliant paid sick leave policy, please Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-533-0777 or Nicole M. Amato, Esq., Associate, in the firm’s Human Resources Practices Group at email@example.com.