By Lori Welty, Reed Group Compliance Counsel
On September 25, Jersey City became New Jersey’s first city, and the nation’s sixth, to require private employers to offer paid sick leave. We have previously written about other cities enacting similar ordinances, and it certainly appears that this trend is continuing to gain momentum. Jersey City’s ordinance goes into effect on January 23, 2014.
Below is a summary of Jersey City’s Ordinance Number 13-097:
All employers who operate a business in Jersey City must comply.
An employee is eligible if the employee works at least 80 hours per year within Jersey City, not including government employees.
Amount of sick time:
Employers must provide 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work. If the employer has 9 or fewer employees then the sick time can be unpaid.
An employee begins accruing sick time at the commencement of employment. Employees can begin using sick time on the 90th calendar day following the commencement of employment.
Employees can carry over sick time from year to year, but employers can cap sick time use and accrual at 40 hours per year.
Reasons for Sick Time
Employees can use sick time for any of the following reasons:
- Treatment of an employee’s or a family member’s mental or physical illnesses, injuries, health conditions, or preventative care; or
- Because the employer’s business or the employee’s child’s school or childcare facility closes for a public health emergency; or
- To care for a family member whose exposure to a communicable disease jeopardizes the health of others.
Interaction with Employer Policy
If an employer policy already provides time off such as paid sick time that is equivalent to the sick time required under the Ordinance, then the employer does not need to provide additional sick time.
Notice and Verifying the Need for Sick Time
An employee must provide notice of the need to use sick time to the employer as soon as practicable.
If the employee’s absence is more than 3 consecutive work days, the employer can require reasonable documentation that the use of sick time was for an authorized purpose; however the employer may not require that the documentation explain the nature of an illness.
In addition to displaying a poster, employers are required to give individual written notice of the Ordinance to employees when they are hired, or as soon as practicable for existing employees.
Stay on Top of the Wave
If the trend holds, local leave laws are only going to become more widespread. It’s crucial for employers to stay alert to the developments in local leave laws, as well as changes at the state and national level. Employers need to be prepared to comply with new local leave laws, including consideration to how the new provisions interact with existing leave obligations.