Employers in New Jersey’s largest city must prepare to comply with the new obligations required by the Ordinance.

The City of Newark’s paid sick leave ordinance (the Ordinance) will take effect on June 21, 2014. Employees will not be able to use paid sick leave under the Ordinance until September 20. We previously discussed a covered employer’s obligations under the Ordinance,[1] including the requirement to post the Ordinance in the workplace. Earlier in June, the Department of Child and Family Well-Being (the Department), which will enforce the law, issued frequently asked questions (FAQ) for employers and employees.[2] According to the City of Newark, employers can satisfy their posting obligation by displaying the FAQ in the workplace.  

Basic Requirements

Under the Ordinance, full- and part-time private-sector employees who work at least 80 hours per year within the City of Newark will accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees who work for employers with 10 or more employees may accrue a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave. Employees who work for employers with fewer than 10 employees may accrue a maximum of 24 hours of sick leave. Eligible employees may use covered leave for their own illness; to address a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; to care for a child whose school or daycare has been closed because of a public health emergency; or to care for a family member when the family member would jeopardize others’ health in a community. Employers that already provide employees with more paid sick leave than mandated by the Ordinance are not required to provide additional sick leave.

Notice and Posting

Covered employers must distribute individual written notices to all eligible employees regarding their rights under the Ordinance. Employers must distribute the notice when an employee is hired or, for current employees, as soon as practicable after June 21. Employers must also display a poster regarding the Ordinance in a conspicuous location in the workplace. The Ordinance requires the written notice and the poster to contain the same minimum information. Although the City of Newark’s website notes that the Department has not yet issued a form of written notice, the FAQ, by definition, provides the minimum information necessary to satisfy the individual notice requirement. If an employer has employees who do not speak English as a first language, however, the employer must post and provide individual notice of the Ordinance in any other language that is the first language of at least 10% of its workforce.

Recommendations

To ensure compliance with the Ordinance, covered employers should take the following actions:

  • Post the FAQ immediately in a conspicuous location in the workplace.
  • Distribute a notice to each employee as soon as practicable after June 21.
  • Review current sick leave policies to ensure that they comply with the Ordinance’s requirements. Employers must ensure that they are not only providing sufficient sick leave to employees, but also that employees are permitted to take leave under the terms of the Ordinance.
  • Train managers and human resources employees on the Ordinance, and make sure that they are aware of the Ordinance’s antiretaliation provisions.
  • Ensure that time and payroll records are sufficiently detailed to reflect the amount of sick leave accrued and used by covered employees.