As previously described in The Labor Dish, the murky waters of state and local paid leave laws have become more complicated and have extended to more and more workers throughout the country. The latest development can be found in New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy signed into law new statewide legislation requiring paid sick leave for employees. The new law is set to go into effect in October 2018.

Companies who have employees in New Jersey must be aware of the new law's requirements. Some notable features include the following:

  • The law applies to all private and most public employers that have employees in New Jersey, regardless of size.
  • The law covers all employees, except those in the construction industry working under a collective bargaining agreement, per diem hospital health care employees and certain public employees.
  • Employees must accrue sick leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per year.
  • Employees will be able to use sick leave for: (i) the diagnosis, care, treatment or recovery for an employee's own or family member's health conditions; (ii) circumstances resulting from an employee's or family member's status as victim of domestic or sexual violence, including related counseling and court proceedings; (iii) the time an employee is unable to work because of the closure of an employee's workplace or a child's school or place of care because of public health emergency; and (iv) the time to attend a school-related event requested or required by school staff, or attend a meeting related to the care of a child's health condition or disability.
  • Accrued but unused sick time must be carried over from one year to the next; however, carryover may not be required for employers who choose to "frontload" paid sick leave by providing all 40 hours at the start of the annual period.
  • Employers will be permitted to determine the increments which sick leave can be used; however, the minimum increment cannot be greater than the total hours of an employee's scheduled shift.
  • The law will permit employers to require up to seven days' advance notice for foreseeable use of sick leave, and to prohibit employees from using foreseeable sick leave on certain dates.
  • The law also contains recordkeeping and employer notice requirements, along with anti-retaliation protections for employees.
  • Finally, the law will preempt all existing local ordinances regarding sick leave in New Jersey and prohibit localities from adopting new sick leave ordinances.

This development in New Jersey is representative of a broader trend occurring throughout the country. Since the start of 2017, a number of additional states and localities have enacted paid sick leave laws. In particular, statewide mandates have been adopted in:

  • Arizona: Effective July 1, 2017, employers with employees in Arizona must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of leave per year for employers with 15 or more employees and up to 24 hours of leave per year for smaller employers. Accrued unused paid sick leave must be carried over (subject to annual caps) unless the employer both pays out accrued unused hours and frontloads the full amount of annual leave at the start of the following annual period.
  • Maryland: Effective February 11, 2018, all employers with employees whose primary work location is in Maryland must provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked (subject to annual caps); for larger employers (15 or more employees), the leave must be paid; for smaller employers, the leave can be unpaid. Accrued unused leave must be carried over (subject to annual caps) unless the employer either frontloads the full amount of annual leave at the start of the annual period or provides the employee with the option of being paid out for unused leave.
  • Rhode Island: Effective July 1, 2018, all employers with 18 or more employees in Rhode Island, other than the federal, state or municipal governments, must provide one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked, with annual caps of 24 hours in 2018, 32 hours in 2019, and 40 hours in 2020.
  • Vermont: Effective January 1, 2017, any entity doing business or operating in Vermont must provide one hour of sick time for every 52 hours worked, subject to 12-month accrual caps of 24 hours until December 31, 2018, and 40 hours thereafter. Accrued unused leave must be carried over (subject to annual caps) or paid out at the end of the annual period.
  • Washington: Effective January 1, 2018, Washington employers must provide employees with one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Accrued unused leave must be carried over (subject to annual caps) or paid out at the end of the annual period.

In addition, since the start of 2017, the following additional localities have added paid sick leave laws to their books: Santa Monica, California; Chicago, Illinois; Cook County, Illinois; Prince George County, Maryland; Minneapolis, Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota; Morristown, New Jersey (will be preempted in October 2018 by state law); Austin, Texas; and Spokane, Washington.

Apart from state and local requirements, federal contractors are subject to regulations promulgated by the Department of Labor requiring the provision of paid sick leave benefits to all full-time and part-time employees performing work on a federal contract or subcontract.

The dizzying patchwork of state, local, and in certain cases, federal requirements related to paid sick leave can be difficult to navigate. Companies conducting business or having employees in cities or states with paid sick leave laws must consistently review their policies and ensure that broad companywide leave policies comply with the most stringent accrual, usage and other requirements applicable.