Seyfarth Synopsis: The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law goes into effect on October 29, 2018 – less than two weeks from now. As employers prepare for the statewide mandate, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development released the long-awaited “Notice of Employee Rights.”

Background

The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (the “ESLL”) goes into effect on October 29, 2018. When the ESLL becomes effective, New Jersey will be the tenth state in the country with an active statewide sick leave mandate.[1] In addition, and notably, the ESLL will preempt the state’s 13 existing municipal paid sick leave ordinances.[2]

As employers prepare for the ESLL, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (the “Department”) recently published the sick leave Notice of Employee Rights (the “Notice”), which must be distributed to all New Jersey employees and posted in the workplace pursuant to the ESLL.

The release of the Notice follows the Department’s mid-September release of the proposed Earned Sick Leave Rules, discussed here. A public hearing on the Proposed Rules is scheduled for November 13, 2018 and the corresponding written comment period ends on December 14, 2018. Thus, it appears that New Jersey’s final sick time rules will not be released until at least early 2019.[3]

With the Notice’s arrival, we highlight below employers’ notice and posting obligations under the ESLL and provide any new information on those obligations revealed by the Notice. For more information on the ESLL’s substantive requirements, please see our previous alerts here, here, and here.

Notice and Posting Obligations

The ESLL requires that employers provide the Notice to both existing and newly hired eligible employees and conspicuously post the Notice in a place accessible to all employees in each of the employer’s workplaces. According to the ESLL, employers must provide each employee with a copy of the Notice (1) not later than 30 days after the state issues the model notice, (2) at the time of the employee’s hiring, if the employee is hired after the model notice is issued, and (3) at any time when first requested by the employee. The Notice explains that the 30-day distribution deadline for existing employees is based on the ESLL’s effective date. In other words, the deadline to provide existing employees with a copy of the Notice is November 29, 2018. Specifically, the Notice states:

New employees [i.e., as of October 29, 2018] must receive this written notice from their employer when they begin employment, and existing employees must receive it by November 29, 2018. Employers must also post this notice in a conspicuous and accessible place at all work sites, and provide copies to employees upon request [i.e., as of October 29, 2018].

The Notice contains a section for employers to insert the start and end of their respective paid sick leave benefit year. The ESLL defines “benefit year” as the period of 12 consecutive months established by an employer in which an employee shall accrue and use earned sick leave. As a reminder, the ESLL explicitly notes that once the starting date of the benefit year is established by the employer it cannot be changed unless the employer notifies the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (the “Commissioner”) of the change in accordance with the forthcoming ESLL final rules.

Employers should also be on the lookout for the Notice in Spanish and any other language that the Commissioner determines is the first language of a significant number of workers in the State. The ESLL states that employers must use the Notice in English, Spanish or any other language (a) for which the Commissioner has provided notifications and (b) which is the first language of a majority of the workforce. As of the date of this Alert, the Department is in the process of translating the Notice into 10 additional languages.

Employer Takeaways

We will continue to monitor and provide updates on New Jersey paid sick leave developments as the ESLL effective date approaches and any changes that take place thereafter. Employers should take steps now to comply with the requirements of the ESLL before the New Jersey statewide sick leave symptoms begin on October 29, 2018.