Paid sick leave is becoming an increasingly common topic of discussion in this newsletter and around the country. Just this year, New York CityWashington, D.C.; and Passaic, New Jersey had laws go into effect requiring employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave annually. Voters in several other state and local jurisdictions recently passed paid sick time laws.

During the November elections, voters in Massachusetts; Montclair and Trenton, New Jersey; and Oakland, California approved ballot initiatives enacting paid sick time laws. These new laws are summarized below.

Massachusetts: In passing a statewide paid sick time law, Massachusetts joins Connecticut and California  as the third state to guarantee paid sick time to its workers. (California’s paid sick leave law takes effect July 1, 2015.) The Massachusetts law requires public and private employers with 11 or more employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year to each employee. Massachusetts employers with fewer than 11 employees must provide unpaid sick time. The new law is set to take effect on July 1, 2015.

Montclair and Trenton, NJ: The paid sick time laws newly adopted in Montclair and Trenton, New Jersey largely parallel ordinances previously enacted by other New Jersey cities, including East Orange, Irvington, Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, and Paterson. Employers with 10 or more employees must provide of up 40 hours of paid sick time annually. Employees who work for employers with fewer than 10 employees are guaranteed only 24 hours of paid sick time. Sick time begins to accrue for these employees on March 4, 2015. In the interim, a bill providing for statewide paid sick benefits continues to advance through the New Jersey legislature.

Oakland, CA: Under the new Oakland, California ordinance, employees who work at least two hours per week within the city limits are guaranteed paid sick time. Employers with more than 10 employees must provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time annually. Under the ordinance, paid sick time begins to accrue on March 2, 2015.

In addition to the jurisdictions referenced above, San Francisco; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon have paid sick leave laws currently in effect. In the face of this national trend, 10 states have taken the opposite tack and have enacted laws prohibiting local jurisdictions from passing paid sick time laws. These states are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

There are jurisdictional differences among the paid sick leave laws in terms of, among other things, leave accrual, use, covered absences, notice requirements, carry-over, forfeiture, and employee education. Employers should consult with legal counsel to ensure that they are complying with applicable law.