The City of Newark, New Jersey recently passed a paid sick leave ordinance (the “Ordinance”) which requires private employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who work at least 80 hours per year in Newark.  Newark is the second city in New Jersey to adopt such legislation, following Jersey City.  Newark Mayor Luis A. Quintanta signed the Ordinance into law on January 29, 2014, and the Ordinance takes effect on May 29, 2014. 

Under the Ordinance, employees of private-sector employers who work at least 80 hours per year in Newark are eligible to earn such paid sick time.  The Ordinance, however, specifically exempts public employees, employees of construction unions covered by collective bargaining agreements, and employees covered by collective bargaining agreements that specifically waive paid sick leave requirements.  Employers with ten or more employees are required to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.  Employers with fewer than ten employees are required to provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.  Child care workers, home health workers, and food service workers can accrue up to 40 hours of paid leave time in any given year, regardless of the number of employees their employer employs.

Eligible employees will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.  Eligible employees can also carry up to 40 hours of paid sick time from year to year under the Ordinance.  Employees became eligible immediately upon being hired, but are not eligible to use the paid sick time until they have been employed for at least 90 days. 

The Ordinance allows eligible employees to use paid sick time for: (i) their own or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; (ii) for closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public health official; (iii) to care for a child whose school or daycare has been closed by order of a public health official; or (iv) to care for a family member whose exposure to a communicable disease would jeopardize the health of others in a community. 

In addition to providing the proper paid sick time under the Ordinance, employers must also provide notice to workers of their right to paid sick leave, the right to be free from retaliation for properly requesting such time off under the Ordinance, and the accrual rate and amount of paid sick time.  Newark’s Department of Child and Family Well-Being has been tasked with enforcing the Ordinance.  Violators can face a fine of up to $1,000 for each infraction of the Ordinance and potential lawsuits. 

Employers with business locations in Newark should review their current paid sick leave policies to ensure they comply with the Ordinance, and employers should also prepare the proper notices required by the Ordinance.  Employers with sick leave policies that are more generous than the Ordinance are not required to provide additional paid sick leave under the Ordinance.