On December 17, 2015, the City of New Brunswick passed its own paid sick leave ordinance, making it the eleventh municipality in the State of New Jersey to require paid sick leave. The ordinance becomes effective on January 6, 2016, but employees must wait until May 5, 2016 (or 120 days after they started work, if hired after January 6) to start using their accrued paid leave.

Under the New Brunswick ordinance, employees accrue one hour of paid sick or safe time for every 35 hours actually worked within the City of New Brunswick. For employers with 10 or more full-time equivalent employees, (1) part-time employees (defined as those who work an average of at least 20 hours per week but less than 35 hours per week) can earn up to 24 hours of paid sick or safe time per calendar year, and (2) full-time employees (defined as those who average at least 35 hours per week) can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick or safe time per calendar year. Employers with less than 10 full-time equivalent employees are not required to provide more than 24 hours of paid sick or safe time per calendar year. Employees who work less than an average of 20 hours per week are not eligible to accrue any paid sick or safe time.

Although it is similar to most other New Jersey paid sick leave ordinances (discussed most recently here and here), the New Brunswick ordinance differs in several important respects.

1. Leave for Safe Time

Most significantly, under the New Brunswick ordinance, employees can use accrued paid leave for either sick or “safe” time. Safe time is paid leave that can be used in connection with instances of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking (e.g., to seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies in connection with instances of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking or to seek treatment for injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking). When safe time is used to address the effects of domestic violence, any time used pursuant to the New Brunswick ordinance does not extend the amount of leave that is provided for under the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act.

2. Covered Employers

Another key difference between the New Brunswick and other New Jersey ordinances is that the text of the New Brunswick ordinance explicitly states that it only applies to employers that maintain a business location within the City of New Brunswick. The law also excludes employers with less than the equivalent of five full-time employees. 

3. Documentation and Notice / Posting Obligations

Further, unlike the other ordinances, under the New Brunswick ordinance, when an employee uses paid sick or safe time for more than three consecutive shifts and/or days, or when an employer reasonably observes a pattern of absences indicating that the employee may be fraudulently using sick or safe time, the employer may require reasonable documentation that the time is being used for a reason consistent with the ordinance. Further, employees of restaurants and drinking establishments may be required to provide documentation if they use their sick or safe time on certain holidays. The ordinance sets forth what is considered reasonable documentation.

Like the other ordinances, accrued but unused paid sick or safe time must be carried over to the following calendar year. However, employers are not required to carry over more than the maximum annual paid sick or safe time that an employee was eligible to earn or to allow the use of more than 40 hours of paid sick or safe time in a calendar year.

Finally, like the other ordinances, under the New Brunswick ordinance, employers must also provide all covered employees with written notice explaining their rights under the ordinance upon hire or, for current employees, as soon as practicable following the law’s effective date. The notices are available in English and Spanish on the City’s website. Employers must also post that same notice to inform employees of their rights under the ordinance. The ordinance also requires employers to maintain adequate records documenting the amount of hours worked by each eligible employee and the amount of sick leave taken.

For more information about this new law, see the City’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.