On January 29, 2014, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Luis A. Quintana signed an Ordinance requiring Newark employers to provide employees with paid sick leave. With this new law, Newark became the second city in New Jersey, after Jersey City, to require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The Ordinance's stated objective is to promote the overall health and safety of the residents and workers in the City of Newark by reducing the risk of and spread of communicable disease and contagion. The law goes into effect May 29, 2014, though employees covered by a current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on that date will not be affected until after the expiration of the CBA.
The Ordinance requires that all employees who work in the City of Newark for at least 80 hours in a year accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours actually worked, up to a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year, as long as the employee works for an employer who employs 10 or more employees. Employers with fewer than 10 employees are only required to provide their employees with up to 24 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year, except for employees who are child care workers, home healthcare workers and food service workers—all of whom must be permitted to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time. Employer is broadly defined to include all employers except the United States government; New Jersey or its political subdivisions or any office, department, agency, authority, institution, association, society or any instrumentality of New Jersey, including the legislature or judiciary; and the City of Newark. For purposes of calculating an employer's number of employees under the Ordinance, an employer is required to include all employees performing work for compensation on a full-time, part-time or temporary basis in the City of Newark provided that such employees work at least 80 hours in a year. If the number of employees fluctuates, the employer may use the average number of employees who worked for compensation during the preceding calendar year.
Employees must begin to accrue paid sick time on the first day of employment, but employees are not entitled to use accrued paid sick time until the 90th calendar day of their employment. Accrued but unused paid sick time must be carried over to the following calendar year, but the employer is not required to carry over more than 40 hours of unused paid sick time from one year to the next. Further, the Ordinance does not require an employer to permit an employee to use more than 40 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year. Employers are not required to pay out employees for accrued but unused paid sick time upon termination of employment.
The Ordinance requires that an employee must be permitted to use accrued paid sick time for:
An employee's mental or physical illness, injury or health condition (including diagnosis, care, treatment or preventive medical care);
Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition (including diagnosis, care, treatment or preventive medical care); and
Closure of the employee's place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee's need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee's need to care for a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities that the family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to a communicable disease.
An employer may require advance notice of the intention to use paid sick time, where the need is foreseeable, and may request that an employee confirm in writing following use of the paid sick time that it was used for one of the foregoing reasons.
The Ordinance also requires employers to give written notice to each employee at the commencement of employment regarding the employee's rights under the Ordinance. Employers must also display a poster in a conspicuous and accessible place.
Important for employers is the fact that any employer with a paid leave policy, such as a paid time off (PTO) policy, that provides an amount of paid leave sufficient to meet the total annual requirements of the Ordinance that may be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as the paid sick time under the Ordinance is not required to provide additional paid sick time. Additionally, the requirements of the Ordinance may be waived in collective bargaining agreements.
What This Means for Newark Employers
Employers who operate in Newark, New Jersey, should consider having their PTO and sick leave policies reviewed and revised to meet the requirements of the Ordinance, including but not limited to, ensuring that:
Employees are accruing paid sick time at the appropriate rate depending on the size of the employer and the type of employee;
Employees begin accruing paid sick time immediately upon becoming employed;
The employer's policy allows an employee to use paid sick time for the reasons enumerated in the Ordinance; and
The employer's policy allows for the carryover of paid sick time from one year to the next.
Employers who do not have PTO or sick leave policies are required to enact a paid sick time policy that meets the requirements of the Ordinance before May 29, 2014. Further, employers are required to distribute the required written notice to each employee and post the required notice in a conspicuous and accessible place before May 29, 2014.