We have been reporting on the growing patchwork of paid sick leave laws now for over 3 years. The patchwork continues to fill in heavily on the west coast with state laws in both California and Oregon and 10 city ordinances scattered across California, Oregon and Washington. This summer Los Angeles and San Diego added their own patches to the quilt. To read more about these new laws, click here and here.
The east coast also contributes heavily to the patchwork, with state laws in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont, a plethora of city laws scattered throughout New Jersey, and a handful of other city or county laws in New York, D.C., Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Puerto Rico rounds out the east coast. This summer, Minneapolis, Minnesota became the first to stretch the thread away from the coastal states. To read more about Minneapolis’ law, click here. It’s law, which takes effect July 1, 2017 opened the door for other interior states and locations to add their own patches. Chicago quickly joined. To read more about Chicago’s law, click here. And this week the city council for St. Paul, Minnesota unanimously passed its own sick leave ordinance. Like Minneapolis, it goes into effect on July 1, 2017. The St. Paul ordinance requires employers to allot employees an hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Unlike the Minneapolis law, St. Paul’s ordinance does not exempt companies with fewer than six employees.
It would be nice if the patches all matched, but each local law has its own definition of who is covered, what it can be used for, and how much must be provided, leaving a mis-matched (and sometimes clashing) pattern of stripes, solids and checks across the nation. New Jersey is a shining example of this where there are at least 12 city ordinances, but the state legislature has stalled passing a consistent state law.
While employers may cringe at the idea of having to pay employees not to work, the administrative cost of adjusting to each local ordinance and tracking the various accrual rates is often times outweighing the cost of the leave itself. Indeed, the objection to many of these laws is not so much the paid time off (as many employers already provide some form of paid time off), but the administrative cost associated with complying and the lack of any meaningful control on employee abuse. As the patchwork continues (and appears to be picking up momentum), employers should make their voices heard at the local, state and national level. A number of states have passed kibosh laws that prohibit municipalities from passing these laws. Stay tuned, if it is not already on the ballot, it is likely coming to a ballot near you soon.