Earlier this month, Morristown joined the growing number of New Jersey cities that require employers to provide paid sick time to their employees. Effective October 4, 2016, the new ordinance (“Ordinance”) requires that certain private employers provide employees who work at least 80 hours in a calendar year with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year.
The Ordinance provides that eligible employees may take paid sick time to address the employee’s own illness or to care for a sick family member. A family member includes biological, adopted, or foster children, stepchildren, parents, grandparents, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, and siblings. The employee may be asked to confirm in writing that the paid sick time was used for an authorized purpose under the Ordinance, and an employer may require an employee to provide “reasonable documentation” — including a doctor’s note — after the employee uses paid sick time for 3 consecutive days or 3 consecutive instances. An employer, however, cannot request information about the illness.
The Ordinance applies to all private employers who operate within Morristown but specifically excludes employees governed by a collective bargaining agreement. While the Ordinance applies to all private entities regardless of size, an employer with fewer than 10 employees may cap paid sick leave at 24 hours per calendar year. One notable exception to the small-employer rule is child care, home health care, and food service employees who are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, regardless of the number of the size of the employer.
Paid sick time accrues at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, starts to accrue on an employee’s first day of employment, and may be used by an employee after his or her 90th day of employment. While accrued but unused paid sick time may be carried over from one calendar year to the next, the employer is not required to offer more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year. The Ordinance also does not require the employer to pay the employee for accrued but unused sick time at the time of an employee’s separation.
Finally, the Ordinance mandates employers comply with certain notice and posting requirements. Employers must provide individual written notice to each employee about his or her rights under the Ordinance and must display a poster containing the relevant information in a “conspicuous and accessible place” in each business establishment where employees are employed. The notice(s) must be in English and “any language that is the primary language of at least 10% of the employer’s workforce.” An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for requesting or using paid sick leave under the Ordinance. This includes threats, discipline, suspension, demotion, and/or termination.