This article was originally published in Law360.
Earlier this year, we advised employers to develop a long-term compliance strategy given the ever-changing nature of this area of law. In the handful of months since that article, seven cities have enacted broad paid sick leave requirements, one city has amended and expanded its paid sick leave ordinance, and several more are taking up the issue on the November ballot.
As states, counties and cities continue to jump on the paid sick leave bandwagon, employers must remain proactive or risk noncompliance.
Summary of New Laws
- San Diego voters passed paid sick leave requirements that went into effect this summer. Employers who drafted a San Diego policy in anticipation of the enactment of the ballot measure should revisit the policy in light of the implementing ordinance that went into effect on Sept. 2. The implementing ordinance allows employers to set a cap on paid sick leave accrual and meet the accrual requirements through an upfront allotment.
- Los Angeles passed a paid sick leave ordinance with an urgency clause, making its requirements effective during the summer for employers with 26 or more employees. Smaller businesses must start complying next year. Unlike state law and broader than the “designated beneficiaries” covered by Bay Area ordinances, Los Angeles allows employees to use paid sick leave for “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”
- Morristown, New Jersey, became the 13th place in the state that requires businesses to provide paid sick leave benefits to local workers.
- Midwestern cities are also joining the growing trend. Minneapolis, Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Chicago, Illinois all recently enacted ordinances that go into effect on July 1, 2017.
- The City Council of Berkeley, California, recently enacted a paid sick leave ordinance despite the fact that there are two competing paid sick leave initiatives on the November ballot, one of which the city council itself placed on the ballot. If either of the ballot measures are passed, it will be unclear which law controls. If the ballot measures fail, employers will need to comply with the recently enacted paid sick leave mandate when it goes into effect in October 2017.
- Companies with employees who perform work in San Francisco will need to amend their paid sick leave policies by Jan. 1, 2017, to ensure compliance with the newly revised ordinance. For example, employers subject to San Francisco’s paid sick leave requirements will need to allow employees to take paid sick leave to donate an organ or bone marrow or to care for a covered individual who is making such a donation.
- The following four jurisdictions previously enacted paid sick leave ordinances that go into effect as early as this fall: Montgomery County, Maryland (effective Oct. 1, 2016); Vermont (effective Jan. 1, 2017); Spokane, Washington (effective Jan. 1, 2017); and Santa Monica, California (effective Jan. 1, 2017).
- The U.S. Department of Labor finalized its paid sick leave rule, which will apply to federal contracts issued on or after Jan. 1, 2017.
What’s Coming Down the Pike?
The number of jurisdictions with legally mandated paid sick leave may grow after the November election when voters weigh in on whether they want such requirements in their cities or states.
- Voters in Washington will decide the fate of Initiative 1433, which would raise the state’s minimum wage and require paid sick days for local workers.
- New Brunswick, New Jersey, will vote on an amendment to the existing paid sick leave ordinance.
- Berkeley, California, voters have plenty of options with a recently passed paid sick leave ordinance and two competing paid sick leave ballot measures.
- After eliminating the potential for a patchwork of local laws by preempting cities and counties from enacting paid sick leave mandates, the state of Arizona now faces Proposition 206, which would provide paid sick leave to employees throughout the state.
We also expect to see paid sick leave developments in the near future in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cook County, Illinois, and Duluth, Minnesota.
- The Healthy Workforce ABQ measure will go before Albuquerque city voters in the 2017 mayoral election.
- The Cook County Board of Commissioners will vote on a proposed paid sick leave mandate today, October 5, 2016.
- A community task force appointed by the Duluth City Council will provide its recommendation on an earned sick or safe time mandate to the council by next summer.
Employers should also keep an eye out for laws like Illinois’ recently passed Employee Sick Leave Act, which instead of creating legally mandated paid sick leave, requires employers that provide personal sick leave benefits to also allow its use to take care of family members.
Finally, employers should not rely solely on the text of an ordinance for compliance purposes. Generally, after an ordinance is enacted, the enforcement agency or relevant legislative body will enact amendments, implementing ordinances, rules and regulations, frequently asked questions, and other guidance that adds more substance and requirements to the relatively skeletal paid sick leave ordinances.