The City of Newark has released new guidance and “Frequently Asked Questions” to assist employers with compliance with the new paid sick leave time ordinance, which became effective on June 21, 2014.
The ordinance applies to all private employers with employees working in the City. Employers with at least 10 employees must provide these employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.
The City directs that “employers must notify employees of their rights and obligations under the ordinance in two ways: (1) by providing individual written notice to each employee and (2) posting notice of such rights in a conspicuous location around the workplace.”
Further, the City states the “Frequently Asked Questions” document should serve as the poster employers must place around the workplace.
The City further recommends that employers prepare a notice to disseminate to employees incorporating the key terms of the ordinance.
Finally, the City recommends employers adopt the key provisions of the ordinance into their handbooks.
Employers should consider the following issues:
- Is the ordinance’s requirement that an employee receive a written notice satisfied by simply distributing the poster (“Frequently Asked Questions”) to employees? The ordinance requires the written notice to employees include the same information as that in the posters. The City recommends preparing a separate notice for employees. The language of the ordinance, however, suggests that distributing the “Frequently Asked Questions” poster to employees would satisfy the ordinance’s requirements.
- Does the “Frequently Asked Questions” satisfy the ordinance’s posting requirements? The ordinance requires the poster and written notice to employees inform them of the “right to be free from retaliation from properly requesting use of Paid Sick Time” and that employees “may bring an action in municipal court if … the employee is retaliated against for requesting or taking paid sick time.” The “Frequently Asked Questions” poster does not include this information. Therefore, employers may consider supplementing the poster and written notice to employees with language concerning these employee rights.
- Does the ordinance require employers to include a policy in a handbook? The City of Newark’s website states: “Employers should also adopt the key provisions of the ordinance into their employee handbooks.” While the City appears to strongly encourage employers to include a policy in their handbooks, the ordinance does not appear to expressly require covered employers to do so. It appears to require only that employers post and distribute a notice advising employees of their rights and obligations under the ordinance.