Last week, Trenton and Montclair became the latest in a series of New Jersey municipalities to pass paid sick leave ordinances, joining East Orange, Irvington, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic and Paterson. Under both the Trenton and Montclair legislation, which are largely modeled after the measures previously adopted by Newark in January, employers with 10 or more workers must provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time accrued on an annual basis, with smaller employers only being required to offer up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year. Employees earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. However, irrespective of the employer’s size, child care, home health care and food service workers are entitled to the full 40 hours of paid benefits per year.
At the same time, the New Jersey Legislature continues to review proposed State-wide legislation designed to provide paid sick leave in a more uniform fashion. Under the current proposals (Assembly Bill A2354 and Senate Bill S785), New Jersey employees would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 40 hours of earned paid sick time annually for employers with less than 10 workers, and up to 72 hours per year for employers meeting or exceeding the 10 employee threshold. If employees do not use all of their accrued hours in a year, they would be permitted to carry them forward for an additional year. Employers would also be required to maintain detailed records concerning employees’ accrued paid sick time hours, and the legislation would clearly define when employees could be required to provide advance notice of sick time and/or documentation to their employers. Employers would further be prohibited from retaliating against any employees using their paid sick time.
Given the current trend of state and local governments enacting paid sick leave laws, now is the time for employers to consult with counsel to ensure that their handbooks, policies and practices comply with the recent, and anticipated, changes in the law.