Newark City Council Passes Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On January 28, 2014, the Newark, New Jersey City Council passed a paid sick leave ordinance making it the second New Jersey municipality ─ along with Jersey City ─ to pass such a law. The Newark ordinance, which takes effect 120 days after its enactment, requires Newark employers of all sizes (with the exception of governmental entities) to provide a minimum number of paid sick leave days to employees. A previous post on the Jersey City ordinance can be found here.

The Newark ordinance applies to employees who are defined as those working “in the City of Newark for at least 80 hours in a year.” The ordinance mandates that individuals employed by employers with 10 or more employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum accrual of 40 hours in a calendar year. Those individuals employed by employers with less than 10 employees will accrue sick time under the same formula, but only up to a maximum of 24 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year. An employee who is a childcare worker, home health care worker, or food service worker can accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time even if the employer employs less than 10 employees. If an employer’s policy sufficiently meets the aforementioned requirements, they need not provide any additional time or compensation to employees.

Employees will being to accrue paid sick time on the first day of employment and are entitled to use such time on the 90th day of employment. An employee may also carry over up to 40 hours of unused paid sick time to the next calendar year.

The Newark ordinance allows an employer to require “reasonable advance notice” when leave is foreseeable or notice “as soon as practicable” when leave is not foreseeable before an employee may take paid sick time. Sick leave can be taken for one of the following reasons:

  • The employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • The employee needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of his/her own health condition;
  • The employee needs to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or who needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or care of same; or who needs preventive medical care;
  • Employee’s place of business is closed due to a public health emergency; or an employee’s child’s school or place of care has been closed due to a public health emergency; or to care for a family member who may have been exposed to a communicable disease.

Lastly, the law requires employers to provide written notice to all employees regarding the employee’s rights under the ordinance, as well as display a poster in each business establishment in a conspicuous and accessible place. Moreover, employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining, denying the exercise of, or retaliating against an employee who exercises his/her rights under the ordinance. If the employer violates a provision of the ordinance, it will be assessed a fine as provided for in Section 1:1-9(a) and (b) of the Newark Code.

Newark employers should review their policies and practices regarding available paid time off and compensation for same to ensure that they are in compliance with the new law. For answers to questions regarding the Newark ordinance, please feel free to contact an attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department.

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