In our February 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority, we reported that the Newark City Council had approved a sick leave ordinance that would provide the majority of private employees working in Newark with mandatory paid sick leave. Newark Mayor Luis A. Quintana has signed the ordinance, and the new law is expected to go into effect on May 29, 2014. Newark will become the second New Jersey municipality to require paid time off for private employees, following Jersey City’s lead.

Covered Employees

The ordinance applies to all private employees working in the City of Newark for at least 80 hours per year, regardless of the size of the employer. Employees must complete at least 90 calendar days of employment before they can use any accrued sick time. Under certain circumstances, the ordinance does not apply to members of a collective bargaining unit, including any member to an agreement that expressly waives the right to paid sick leave, among others.

Leave Entitlement and Accrual

Employers with 10 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave over a calendar year, and employers with less than 10 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave over a calendar year. Employees covered by the ordinance will accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week. Employees are permitted to “carry over” up to 40 hours of sick leave from year to year but there is no requirement to “pay out” accrued sick leave to terminated employees. 

Notice and Posting Obligations

Aside from providing paid sick leave, employers must also provide all covered employees with written notice explaining their rights under the ordinance upon their hire or, for current employees, as soon as practicable following the law’s effective date (May 29, 2014). The notice must contain specific information, including but not limited to how the time will accrue and how the employee may use the time. Employers must also display a poster (not yet available) informing employees of their rights under the ordinance. The ordinance also requires employers to maintain adequate records documenting the amount of hours worked by each eligible employee and the amount of sick leave taken.

Applicability to Employers That Already Provide Sick Leave

If an employer already maintains a paid leave policy that provides the minimum leave rights allowed by the ordinance, it does not need to provide additional sick leave. Such employers still need to comply with the notice and documentation requirements set forth in the ordinance. Employers with employees working in Newark should consider revising their policies and taking immediate action to ensure compliance with this new law.