The New Jersey Assembly is considering a bill that would put the kibosh on local government efforts to require private employers to provide employees with paid sick leave.  This proposed legislation is a response to the fact that six New Jersey municipalities have enacted a “patchwork” of paid sick leave laws within the past year, while others are poised to do so. Numerous states have already passed “kibosh” laws, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Assembly Bill No. 3702 would prohibit counties, municipalities, or other political subdivisions of the State of New Jersey, or boards, commissions, departments, or agencies of any of these entities, from adopting any ordinance, rule or regulation requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  The bill does not propose such restraints on local or regional school districts.

The statement supporting the bill states that allowing leave laws to be adopted on a local level would lead to “patchwork regulation and place additional burdens on employers, stifling economic growth and job creation.”  Further, the bill would “make the State more economically competitive by providing greater consistency and predictability in employment rules.”

The six New Jersey municipalities which have enacted paid sick leave laws are Jersey City, Newark, East Orange, Irvington, Passaic, and Paterson. Montclair and Trenton appear poised to enact similar legislation soon.

Earlier this year, a state-wide paid sick leave law was proposed in the New Jersey Assembly; however, this bill appears to have stalled in the Assembly Labor Committee. California and Connecticut are the only two states requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.

Given what appears to be overwhelming support for paid sick leave laws in New Jersey’s largest cities, whether New Jersey will pass this bill and join the ranks of “kibosh states” is unclear. Nevertheless, it adds to the debate about whether paid sick leave laws should continue to be enacted on a piecemeal, patchwork-type basis, or whether they should be enacted on a broader, more uniform basis.

Luke P. Breslin