On June 21, 2014, the Newark, New Jersey, paid sick leave ordinance ("Ordinance") took effect.[1] The Ordinance, which we summarized in a previous Act Now Advisory, imposes notice and posting requirements on employers. Specifically, as of June 21, 2014, covered employers must provide existing employees and new hires with written notice of their rights under the Ordinance, and a poster regarding sick leave benefits must be displayed in a conspicuous location at the workplace.

Newark's Department of Child and Family Well-Being ("Department"), which has responsibility for enforcing the Ordinance, has prepared "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQ"). Earlier this month, the City of Newark announced that employers may use the FAQ to satisfy the posting requirement. While the Ordinance requires the poster to be in English and in any language that is the first language of at least 10 percent of the workforce, only an English FAQ is currently available.

In terms of the form of notice to be distributed to employees, the Department was expected to prepare model notices, but they are not yet available. Instead, the City recommends that employers prepare their own written notices conveying the key provisions of the Ordinance. Similar to the notice to be posted at the workplace, the Ordinance requires that this notice be provided both in English and in the primary language spoken by an employee, so long as the primary language of the employee is also the primary language of at least 10 percent of the employer's workforce. The notice must describe:

  • the right to paid sick time,
  • the accrual rate and amount of paid sick time available,
  • the terms of using paid sick time,
  • the right to be free from retaliation for exercising rights under the Ordinance, and
  • the right to a private cause of action for interference or retaliation.

In preparing notices, employers must be mindful that the Ordinance may require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who would not qualify for paid time off ("PTO") under the employer's standard sick leave or PTO policy, or who would be entitled to less leave or carryover than the Ordinance requires. For example, while many employers do not provide PTO to part-time or seasonal employees, the Ordinance requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked to employees who have worked in Newark for at least 80 hours in a calendar year.

Finally, in its announcement, the City recommended that employers add the key provisions of the Ordinance to their employee handbooks.

What Employers Should Do Now

  • Display the FAQ prepared by the Department in a conspicuous place.
  • Determine the primary language spoken by at least 10 percent of employees in your workforce.
  • Determine which employees are covered by the Ordinance.
  • Review current sick leave/PTO policies to determine whether any changes to the policies are needed to meet the minimum requirements of the Ordinance and modify such policies, or prepare supplemental policies, for covered employees, as may be needed.
  • Prepare the required notice.
  • Distribute the required notice to current employees and new employees, upon hire.
  • Ensure that time, payroll, and benefits systems properly track, calculate, and sufficiently show the hours worked and sick time taken by employees.
  • Train managers and human resource personnel about the Ordinance and its record-keeping and non-retaliation provisions.