Potential Relief on the Horizon for Business Owners as New Jersey Legislature Considers Controversial Revision To Proposed Statewide Sick Leave Law

A new version of the proposed statewide New Jersey sick leave law, sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees) as well as other Democrats in the Assembly may potentially include a controversial amendment that would make the bill more palatable to businesses. The revised bill could come with an amendment that would pre-empt local governments from adding to any statewide sick leave requirements that would be enacted. NJBIZ is reporting that the revised bill – with such a pre-emption — could resurface by the end of this month.

As it currently stands, the proposed statewide bill allows full-time and part-time employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Employees at businesses with ten or more employees would have a 72-hour-per-year cap, while employees at businesses with nine or fewer employees would have their paid sick hours per year capped at 40. In its current form, the bill allows New Jersey municipalities to adopt their own local paid sick leave ordinances, as long as those ordinances were in compliance with the statewide law. Nine municipalities have already passed their own paid sick leave ordinances: Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Montclair, Trenton and Bloomfield.

Business groups widely support an amendment to the state bill that would pre-empt all local ordinances. The amendment would allow businesses to create a uniform plan for compliance with the state law, rather than adjusting paid sick leave policies in municipalities that have their own, more expansive paid sick leave laws. In interviews with NJBIZ, leaders from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association expressed disapproval of the idea of a statewide paid sick leave law, but acknowledged that amendments to the bill that would ease the burden on businesses would be welcome. Conversely, representatives from employee advocacy groups New Jersey Citizen Action and New Jersey Working Families informed NJBIZ that an amendment with local pre-emption would be an unwelcome addition to the statewide bill.

The Statewide bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), seemed open to discussion, stating, “I am working with the Assembly sponsors to advance this measure and discussing the potential for amendments to the legislation.”

For more information regarding this proposed bill and to learn how your business can implement best practices when dealing with paid sick leave laws, please contact John C. Petrella, Director of the firm’s Employment Litigation Practice Group at jpetrella@nullgenovaburns.com or Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at dmastellone@nullgenovaburns.com or 973-533-0777.

Important Deadline Approaching Under New York City’s Paid Sick Leave Law

By Thursday, May 1, 2014, covered employers under New York City’s Earned Sick Time Act, also known as the Paid Sick Leave Law, must distribute a written notice to existing employees regarding their rights under the Paid Sick Leave Law. This notice is available on the Department of Consumer Affairs website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/downloads/pdf/MandatoryNotice.pdf. This notice must also be distributed to all new hires, first employed on or after April 1, 2014. The notice must set forth your calendar year, including the start and end date as each employer’s calendar year may differ.

Effective April 1, 2014, covered employers should have begun complying with the Paid Sick Leave Law. Under the Paid Sick Leave Law,  employers with 5 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year for employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year. A calendar year is defined as any regular and consecutive twelve month period of time as determined by the employer. Eligible employees accrue 1 hour for every 30 hours worked and should have begun accruing sick time effective April 1, 2014. Employees can begin using their sick leave 120 days after their first day of employment. For existing employees, this means that they can begin using their accrued sick leave as of July 30, 2014. Employers must retain records documenting compliance with law for at least three years.

If your current paid leave policy provides eligible employees with paid leave that meets the requirements of the Act and allows employees to use the leave for the purposes covered under the Act, you are not required to provide additional leave.

Please note that there are exceptions to the Paid Sick Leave Law. For example, employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement in effect as of April 1, 2014 will not be covered under the Act until the collective bargaining agreement terminates. The Act also does not apply to employees of government agencies.

For more information on the Paid Sick Leave Law and how you it may affect your current policies, please contact Dena B. Calo, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group and Partner in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dcalo@nullgenovaburns.com, or Erica B. Lowenthal, Esq., Associate in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at elowenthal@nullgenovaburns.com.

Jersey City Employers Must Provide Sick Time

Beginning today 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 calendar year, including part-time and temporary employees who work at least 80 hours in the year. Jersey City employers with fewer than 10 employees must provide unpaid sick time to their employees, including part-time and temporary employees who work at least 80 hours in the year.

Generally, employees accrue 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 the 91st day of employment. Sick time may be used for one of the following reasons: the employee’s health care, the care of a family member, the closure of the employee’s place of business due to a public health emergency, or to care for the employee’s child whose school is closed due to a public health emergency. Sick time may be taken in hourly increments or the smallest increment that the employer’s payroll system uses to account for absences or use of other time, whichever is smaller.

Employers that already have a paid leave policy in place that provides at least an equal amount of paid leave for the same qualifying events covered by the ordinance are not required to provide additional paid sick time, but should have their leave policies reviewed carefully by counsel to ensure that their policies comply. Jersey City’s new law provides for carry-over of accrued but unused sick time from one calendar year to the next, however employees are not required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick time at the time of separation from employment.

Employers must provide written notice to new hires, display a poster approved by the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, and retain records of employee pay and sick time usage for three years. Employers who violate the notice and posting requirements may face fines up to $100 for each employee who did not receive a notice and up to $500 for each establishment where a poster was not displayed. This new law also prohibits retaliation, and employers found in violation can face a fine of up to $1,250 and/or up to 90 days of community service per violation.

Some Frequently Asked Questions about Jersey City’s new law can be found here.

For more information on the new ordinance, or for information on paid sick time laws in other jurisdictions, please contact Patrick W. McGovern, pmcgovern@nullgenovaburns.com, or Rebecca Fink,rfink@nullgenovaburns.com, in the firm’s Labor Group.

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.

New York City to Require Employers to Provide Paid Sick Time

The New York City Council has agreed on legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick time. Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s vow to veto the bill, there appears to be enough support to override a veto.

Beginning in April 2014, businesses with 20 or more employees would have to provide five paid sick days for mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or medical care or treatment to employees or employees’ children, spouses, parents, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, domestic partners, children of domestic partners, mothers of domestic partners and fathers of domestic partners. Employers with 15 or more employees would have to do the same by October 2015. All other employers would have to provide five unpaid sick days per year.

Under the legislation, employees would be entitled to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours of work, up to a maximum of forty hours of paid sick time each calendar year. Employees must be compensated at their regular rate of pay for accrued sick days. Employers will be permitted to require employees to provide reasonable notice of sick time use, and for an absence of more than three consecutive works days an employer may require supporting documentation. Businesses may continue to provide sick time under existing policies and practices provided employees receive at least as much protection as under the sick time bill.

The bill also contains certain exceptions for new businesses as well as non-retaliation, recordkeeping and notice and posting requirements with which employers should familiarize themselves. A final vote is expected later in April.

We will continue to monitor New York City’s sick time bill. For more information on the legislation and implementing lawful workplace policies, please contact Douglas E. Solomon, Esq., dsolomon@nullgenovaburns.com, or Douglas J. Klein, Esq., dklein@nullgenovaburns.com in our Labor Law Practice Group.