Newark Sick Leave Law Update

by Proskauer Rose LLP
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The Newark Department of Child and Family Well-Being (Department) recently issued a press release on the City's new paid sick leave ordinance (Ordinance) together with FAQ forms for employees and employers. In the release, the Department appears to move the effective date [1] of the Ordinance from May 29, 2014 to June 21, 2014.[2]

One of the requirements of the Ordinance is that employers provide a written notice of rights under the law to each employee, individually, as soon as practicable after the Ordinance takes effect. Employers also must provide the notice to each new hire at the time employment commences. Notice to the individual must be in English and the primary language spoken by that employee, if the primary language of the employee also is the primary language of at least 10% of the employer's workforce.

In addition, employers must display a poster in a conspicuous and accessible place in each business establishment covered by the Ordinance. The poster must be in English and in each language that is the first language of at least 10% of the employer's workforce.

It is unclear whether the FAQ forms issued by the Department can be used to satisfy the posting and distribution requirements laid out in the Ordinance. To ensure compliance with the law, for the time being at least, employers should consider displaying and distributing[3] the FAQ forms, a copy of the Ordinance, and a document incorporating the key terms of the Ordinance[4] in the time, manner, and languages noted above. In addition, the Department's press release states that employers should add a policy to their employee handbooks regarding sick leave rights under the Ordinance.

[1] For employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the Ordinance takes effect upon expiration of the current union contract.

[2] On the face of the Ordinance, the effective date is May 29, 2014.

[3] The new law is silent on permissible methods of distributing written notice to employees and new hires. Thus, it appears that e-mail may be used to satisfy this obligation, if the employer prefers this method of distribution. Whether employers provide written notice by email or in hard copy, they should maintain records to demonstrate compliance with the notice obligations.

[4] The Ordinance provides that the notice and poster must describe "the right to paid sick time, the accrual rate and the amount of paid sick time, and the terms of its use under the Ordinance; the right to be free from retaliation for properly requesting use of paid sick time; and the right to file a complaint or bring an action in municipal court if paid sick time is denied by the employer or the employee is retaliated against for requesting or taking paid sick time."

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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