In recent years, several states have joined a rapidly growing trend of enacting laws that require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. With a bill approved by the New Jersey Assembly on March 26, 2018, it appears likely that New Jersey will become the tenth state to join this movement. States that already mandate paid sick leave laws include Arizona, California, Washington, and Oregon, as well as Washington, D.C. While opponents continue to voice concerns about the burden that these laws impose on employers (particularly small businesses), organizations across the country should be aware of the expanding push for paid sick leave and stay tuned for similar legislative actions in their cities and states.
If enacted, New Jersey’s Assembly Bill 1827 (A1827) would entitle employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours that they work, up to 40 hours per year.
When taking sick leave, employees must be paid at the same rate and with the same benefits they usually receive. Employees would also be allowed to carry up to 40 hours of unused leave into the following year. The bill applies to all employers, including small businesses, and would permit employees to take paid sick leave for the following reasons:
- The employee’s own physical or mental illness.
- The employee’s need to care for a family member with a physical or mental illness. A1827 defines “family member” broadly, encompassing nearly anyone with whom the employee has a close, family-like relationship.
- Certain circumstances that result from the employee or a family member being the victim of sexual or domestic violence.
- Closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child, due to a public health emergency.
- The employee’s need to attend school-related meetings, conferences or other events.
A1827 will need to be approved by the State Senate and signed by Governor Phil Murphy before it becomes law. However, the Senate has also introduced its own paid sick leave bill that is slightly different from A1827. One key difference is that A1827 would preempt the thirteen existing paid sick leave ordinances adopted by New Jersey towns and cities, while the Senate Bill would leave them intact—which would create a confusing compliance patchwork for employers with multiple locations. Any differences between the two bills will need to be reconciled before a final version is sent to Governor Murphy.
Among the nine other states that have already mandated paid sick leave, each law is unique in terms of the number of hours to which it entitles employees, the organizations to which it applies, and more. For example, Arizona’s law—which went into effect on July 1, 2017—requires organizations with fewer than 15 employees to provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year, while organizations with 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours per year. In California, employees accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, but organizations may limit the amount of leave that employees use to 24 hours per year. The circumstances for which employees in Arizona and California may take sick leave are similar to those enumerated in New Jersey’s A1827.
As employees increasingly demand a mandate for paid sick leave, additional cities and states across the country will likely pass laws requiring organizations to provide it. For employers, these laws impose new costs and a heightened administrative burden, including the need to accurately track the number of hours that employees work.
Could mandatory paid sick leave be coming to your state? Contact the HR experts at CBR to learn more about what these laws require and how your organization can prepare for them. Call us today at 602-200-8500 or contact us online at https://cbri.com/contact/ to have one of our representatives get in touch with you!
(Sources: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/A2000/1827_R1.PDF, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c4b31882-396c-471b-8efe-fccc66700a37, http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/paid-sick-leave.aspx, http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/03/law_mandating_sick_days_gains_steam_in_nj.html, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/htg—how-to-comply-with-california’s-paid-sick-leave-requirements.aspx).
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