New Jersey legislators have delayed a vote on the Paid Sick Leave Act to allow the Assembly and Senate a chance to settle their disputes over the bill’s impact on small employers and its preemptive effect on municipal ordinances mandating paid sick leave. These are the same issues that led to failure of the March 2016 vote in the legislature.
Under the bill, private and public employers must provide their employees with one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
In March, the Senate approved amending the bill to permit employee paid-time off (PTO) policies (which provide vacation, sick, and personal days off) to satisfy the requirements under the proposed law. The legislators, however, have not reached consensus on the preemptive effect of the Paid Sick Leave Act on municipal ordinances requiring paid sick leave. Currently, at least a dozen municipalities in the Garden State have local ordinances mandating employers with a minimum number of employees to provide paid sick leave. (For an example, see our article, Jersey City, New Jersey, Extends Paid Sick Leave Requirements to More Employers.)
The New Jersey State Assembly has passed a bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, following phased-in increases, and tie future increases to the consumer price index. The bill will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour effective January 1, 2017, then will require annual increases of $1.25 per year (or $1.00 per year plus any increase in the consumer price index) until 2021. The New Jersey State Senate is considering a similar bill from the Labor Committee.
The Assembly bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. Lawmakers, in response to looming veto threats from the governor, reportedly will propose a referendum to put the minimum wage increase to the voters for a state constitutional amendment should the governor exercise his veto.
New Jersey employers should consider contingency plans now. A review of staffing, budgets, and leave policies may be appropriate given the potentially significant change.