NJ Paid Sick Leave Legislation Gains Momentum
by Deena B. Rosendahl, Esq.
“Although the Paid Sick Leave Law has only been passed in isolated municipalities, it is gaining momentum – it is very likely that it will be passed on a state level in the near future.” -Deena B. Rosendahl, Employment Law Attorney
The Paid Sick Leave bill has not yet passed statewide, but several additional regions in New Jersey recently voted to pass the legislation on a local level. In addition to Newark, Jersey City, Passaic, Paterson, East Orange, and Irvington; Montclair and Trenton also now have mandatory paid sick leave.
Although this new legislation may appear to put employers at a disadvantage, it will actually improve productivity in the long run: if workers are not offered paid sick leave, they will often come to work even if they are ill. Sick employees are less productive, and they expose other workers to illness. Furthermore, it will take them longer to recover: it may only take one day of rest to feel better, but if rest is not taken it could take much longer. From an employer’s point of view, five days of an employee working at 50% of his potential is far more lost time than if the employee were to take one day off and return to work four days at 90% efficiency.
“Essentially, by paying employees to stay home and rest, employers are saying ‘don’t worry about your job – take the day off to stay home and rest. Avoid getting others sick, and come back when you are feeling well enough to be productive.’ Paid sick leave is not only a matter of dollars and cents; it is a long-term investment in employee health and productivity.” -D. Rosendahl
What do Employers Need to Do?
- First, determine whether your company is in one of the affected municipalities.
- Note that if you have over 10 employees, you must provide up to 40 hours of sick leave every calendar year and if you have less than 10 employees, you must provide up to 24 hours. In both cases, your employees should accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
- Examine your paid sick leave policy – if you don’t currently have one, then you need to implement one. If you already have a paid sick leave policy, ensure it is compliant with the new regulations.
- Implement the compliant paid sick leave policy by the required date in your municipality
- You must provide advance written notice of this policy to your employees, so be sure to update your employee handbook.
- You must also display a poster informing employees of their rights under this law (the poster should be available for purchase shortly).
- Be sure to accurately document the amount of hours your employees work and the amount of sick leave they take.
When Does the Paid Sick Leave Law Take Effect?
- Passaic: December 31, 2014
- East Orange: January 6, 2015
- Paterson: January 7, 2015
- Irvington: January 7, 2015
- Montclair: March 4, 2015
- Trenton: March 4, 2015
How Can Employees Use Paid Sick Leave?
In Newark, employers can decide whether they allow employees to take paid sick leave in increments of less than one day. However in all other cities, paid sick time may be taken in hourly increments – or in smaller increments, if the company’s timekeeping system supports it. Paid sick leave can be used not only for employee sickness, but also to care for the sickness of a family member.
What are the Penalties for Violating the Paid Sick Leave Law?
In Newark, the municipal court can require restitution. But in all other areas, the court may provide restitution, reinstatement, injunctive relief, or declaratory relief.
Need Legal Advice on Your Paid Sick Leave Policy?
Call Deena B. Rosendahl at 201-947-8855 or email email@example.com. We would be happy to help you draft a new policy or amend your handbook.