In light of the fact that several New Jersey cities have recently passed local ordinances requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, momentum is growing for the New Jersey legislature to pass a similar law statewide.
One such bill (A2354/S785), which was originally introduced on February 6, 2014, would allow workers to accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked. An employer would not be required to permit the employee to accrue at any one time, or carry forward from one year to the next, more than 40 hours of earned sick leave if the employer has fewer than 10 employees in the state, or more than 72 hours of earned sick leave if the employer has 10 or more employees.
Similar to the local ordinances, the state law would prohibit an employer from taking any retaliatory personnel action or discriminating against an employee because the employee requests or uses earned sick leave. Unlike the local ordinances, however, the state law would provide for a rebuttable presumption of an unlawful retaliatory personnel action whenever an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of when that employee: (1) files a complaint with the department or a court alleging a violation of the paid sick leave law; (2) informs any person about an employer's alleged violation of the law; (3) cooperates with the department or other persons in the investigation or prosecution of any alleged violation of the law; (4) opposes any policy, practice, or act that is unlawful under the law; or (5) informs any person of his or her rights under the law.
Employers would be required to provide notification to their employees of their rights under the law. In addition to providing employees with a copy of the notification, an employer would also be required to conspicuously post the notification in a place or places accessible to all employees in each of the employer's workplaces.
In its current form, the New Jersey state sick leave law would not preempt the numerous local ordinances. The law specifically states that it provides minimum requirements pertaining to earned sick leave and does not preempt, limit, or otherwise affect the applicability of any other law that provides rights or benefits to employees that are more favorable to employees. Likewise, recent amendments to the law clarify that the “year” contemplated by the law can be any 12-month period established by the employer. Also, the law’s provisions will not apply to employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement until that agreement expires.
The bill recently advanced in the Assembly Labor Committee, but still must be passed in the Assembly and Senate before it advances to Governor Christie.