Voters in Trenton, New Jersey approved Ordinance No. 14-45 (the “Ordinance”) in November 2014. The Ordinance provides paid sick leave to all private sector workers who work at least 80 hours during a year in the City of Trenton. The 80 hour threshold includes employees who perform work in the City of Trenton even if their employers are located elsewhere. As a result, the Ordinance impacts employers who are located outside of Trenton.
Under the Ordinance, beginning in April 2015, workers “accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.” Businesses with 10 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, and businesses with less than 10 employees must allow employees to earn up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year. “For child care workers, home health care workers and food service workers, [e]mployers are required to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time” per year, even if they employ fewer than 10 employees.
Employers must either pay employees for any unused paid sick time at the end of the calendar year in which it is accrued or permit employees to carry over their unused sick time to the next calendar year. Employers are not required to permit employees to carry over more than 40 hours of unused sick time or to allow them to use more than 40 hours of unused sick time each year. The Ordinance sets forth penalties for non-compliance. Under the Ordinance, each day in which paid sick leave is not provided constitutes a separate violation.
On March 2, 2015, several business organizations filed a lawsuit against the City of Trenton seeking to invalidate the Ordinance by alleging that it is unconstitutional, preempted by state law, and seeks to “regulate matters that are of statewide concern.” Four days after the business organizations sued the City of Trenton, the parties entered into a consent order. Pursuant to the consent order, enforcement of the Ordinance is stayed while the lawsuit is pending in court. Employers, however, must permit employees to accrue paid sick leave. In the event that the City of Trenton prevails in the lawsuit, the consent order specifies that no fines or penalties can be applied retroactively.
The City of Trenton is just one of several New Jersey municipalities that passed sick leave ordinances in 2013 and 2014. Other New Jersey municipalities with similar laws include: Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Passaic, Irvington, East Orange, and Montclair.