by Joseph C. Nuzzo, Jr.
Most employees in Newark, New Jersey, will begin earning paid sick leave time on May 29.
The new ordinance, which was passed in January, allows employees in the city to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. The ordinance doesn’t apply to public employees or employees who are members of construction unions.
Employers with 10 or more workers will have to allow up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees will be required to give employees up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year. Childcare workers, home healthcare workers, and food service workers will be eligible for 40 hours of paid sick leave per year regardless of their employer’s size.
Under the ordinance, employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. Employees who are exempt from overtime pay requirements will be assumed to work 40 hours per week for accrual purposes unless their regular workweek is shorter than 40 hours. Those employees will accrue leave based on the number of hours they typically work per week.
The ordinance allows employees to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave to subsequent calendar years, but an employer isn’t required to allow employees to use more than 40 hours in a calendar year. Additionally, employers can pay out unused sick leave at the end of a calendar year in lieu of carrying the hours over.
Employers may define “calendar year” as any regular consecutive 12-month period. Paid sick leave must be compensated at the employee’s normal rate of pay or the state minimum wage, whichever is greater.
The ordinance does not apply to employees currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Future CBAs can “expressly waive” the requirements of the ordinance if the waiver is “clear and unambiguous.”
Employees will begin to accrue leave immediately upon the effective date of the ordinance or upon the commencement of their employment, but they aren’t eligible to use paid leave until the 90th calendar day of employment.
Employees will be permitted to use the leave for their own or a family member’s illness, medical treatment, or preventive care. The ordinance defines “family member” expansively to include the employee’s children, including step, adopted, foster, and in loco parentis (in place of a parent) relationships; parents or legal guardians, including step, adopted, foster, and in loco parentis relationships; spouses or domestic or civil union partners; grandparents; grandchildren; siblings; and spouses or domestic or civil union partners of the employee’s parents or grandparents.
For more information on Newark’s paid sick leave ordinance, see “Newark joins paid sick leave bandwagon” on page 1 of the May issue of New Jersey Employment Law Letter.