Tag: Paid Sick Leave

National Survey of Paid Sick Leave Laws

Melanie D. Lipomanis

The following is a summary of new paid sick leave laws enacted within the last few years across the United States: 

  • San Francisco: Effective Date Feb. 5, 2007

Under the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance employees begin to accrue sick leave ninety calendar days from their date of hire.  All employers are subject to the ordinance for employees who perform work within San Francisco city limits.  All employees accrue paid sick in one hour increments for every thirty hours worked, including temporary and part-time employees and without regard to immigration status.  Accrual of paid sick leave is capped at 40 hours for employees of businesses with fewer than ten employees, and 72 hours for those with ten or more.

  • Washington, D.C.: Effective May 13, 2008

The Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (“ASSLA”), requires all employers to provide each employee with paid sick and/or safe leave as follows:  employers with 100 or more employees must provide at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked, not to exceed 7 days of leave per year;  employers with 25 to 99 employees must provide at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 43 hours worked, not to exceed 5 days of leave per year; and employers with 24 or less employees must provide each employee at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 87 hours worked, not to exceed 3 days of leave per year.  Paid leave begins to accrue at the start of employment and may be used after 90 days of employment.  Leave may be taken for the following situations: (1) physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of the employee; (2) to obtain a medical diagnosis or preventative care for the employee; (3) situations arising under (1) and/or (2) for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or other family member of the employee; or (4) to obtain social or legal services pertaining to stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse of the employee or employee’s family member.  The law contains an exception (“safe harbor”) that employers with existing paid leave policies will be deemed to be compliant with the new law if the polices permit employees to accrue and use paid leave that are at least equivalent to the leave prescribed in ASSLA.

  • Connecticut: Effective Jan. 1, 2012

Under the Paid Sick Leave Act Employers with 50 or more employees must pay “service workers” one hour for every 40 hours worked provided the service worker has worked an average of 10 or more hours a week for the employer in the most recent complete calendar quarter.  “Service worker” encompasses numerous occupations within various service industries (see the Act for all occupations and categories at http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/SickLeaveLaw.htm).  The Act does not apply to day or temporary workers, non-hourly employees or salaried employees.  Paid leave hours begin to accrue on the employee’s date of hire and may be taken upon completion of the 680th hour of employment.  Accrual is capped at 40 hours in any given year.  Leave may be taken for the illness, injury or health condition, or the medical diagnosis, care or treatment of mental illness or physical illness, injury or health condition, or preventative medical care for a service worker or the service worker’s child or spouse, or where a service worker is a victim of family violence or sexual assault, for medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability, or  to obtain services from a victim services organization, (C) to relocate due to such family violence or sexual assault, or to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from such family violence or sexual assault.  The Act contains a safe harbor provision.

  • Seattle:      Effective Sept. 1, 2012 

Under Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (“PSST”), requires private sector employers to provide all employees working within Seattle city limits with paid sick and/or safe leave as follows:  businesses with more than 4-49 employees must provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, with a carryover and capped use rate of 40 hours taken per calendar year; employers with 50-249 employees must provide one hour for every 40 hours worked, with a carryover and capped use rate of 56 hours per calendar year; employers with 250 or more employees must provide one hour for every 30 hours worked, with a carryover and capped use rate of 72 hours per calendar year.  The ordinance applies to all full-time, part-time, temporary, and occasional-basis employees, and employees who telecommute in Seattle.  Leave may be taken for illness or preventative care for the employee or the employee’s family member, or for matters involving domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or for closure of the employee’s workplace or the school or place of care of the employee’s child by public official to limit exposure to infectious agent, biological toxin or hazardous material. The ordinance contains a safe harbor provision.

  • Portland, Ore.: Effective Jan. 1, 2014 

The Portland Protected Sick Time Ordinance requires employers with 6 or more employees to provide one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, and employers with fewer than 5 employees to provide one hour of unpaid leave for every 30 hours worked.  The ordinance applies to all employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the city of Portland for 240 hours or more in a calendar year.   The sick leave may be used for issues related to the employee’s own health, to care for the health of a family member, or to address issues caused by domestic violence, sexual harassment, assault or stalking.  Sick time may be used in increments of one hour or greater. The ordinance contains a safe harbor provision.

  • Jersey City, N.J.: Effective Jan. 24, 2014 

The ordinance requires employers with more than ten employees that operate within Jersey City to provide paid sick leave to all employees employed in Jersey City, regardless of full-time or part-time status. Employees of businesses with less than ten employees also must be permitted to accrue sick leave, but such leave may be unpaid.  In addition, the ordinance provides that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for taking sick leave, reporting a violation of the ordinance or engaging in other activities protected under the ordinance. 

  • New York City: Effective April 1, 2014

New York City employers with five or more employees must provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick time to employees, which may be used for the employee’s own illness or to care for a sick family member.  The law has a broad definition of “family member.”  For employers with fewer than five employees, the sick leave may be unpaid. 

  • Newark, N.J.: Extended effective date June 21, 2014

All employers regardless of size must provide one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked.  For those businesses that employ nine or fewer employees in Newark may cap accrual of sick leave to 24 hours per year; employers with ten or more employees may cap paid sick leave to 40 hours per year.  The sick leave may be used for issues related to the employee’s own health, to care for the health of a family member.

  • State Paid Sick Leave Preemption Laws

In response to the piecemeal trend in paid sick leave laws, some state legislatures have enacted preemption laws that prohibit local governments from passing paid sick leave legislation, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Wisconsin enacted legislation in 2011 that bars cities, villages and counties from enacting family and medical leave rules that differ from state standards, which effectively eliminated Milwaukee’s paid sick ordinance.

Newark Adopts Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Harrison J. McAvoy

Add Newark to the growing ranks of jurisdictions that have adopted laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to employees.  On January 29, 2014, Mayor Luis A. Quintana signed Ordinance 13-2010 into law, making New Jersey’s largest city the second municipality in the state to adopt a paid sick leave ordinance.  We previously reported on Jersey City’s adoption of a paid sick leave law here, as well as New York City’s.  Private employers located in Newark must comply with the paid sick leave ordinance by May 29, 2014.

Newark’s ordinance requires that all businesses that employ workers within city limits provide paid sick leave, regardless of the size of the business.  At a minimum, employers must provide workers (i.e., employees who have worked in Newark at least 80 hours in a year) with one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked.  For those businesses that employ at least ten employees in the city, paid sick leave can be capped at forty hours per year.  Businesses that employ less than ten employees in Newark need not permit employees to accrue more than twenty-four hours of paid sick leave.  Leave can be taken for the employee’s illness or medical care, as well as the illness or care of the employee’s family.  An employer violates the ordinance by denying paid sick leave or by retaliating against employees who attempt to exercise rights protected by the ordinance.

For unionized employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement in effect as of the effective date of the ordinance, the ordinance does not become effective until after the termination of the current collective bargaining agreement.    The ordinance also provides (unlike the Jersey City ordinance) that some or all of the ordinance’s requirements may be expressly waived by a collective bargaining agreement, so long as the waiver is expressed “in clear and unambiguous terms.”

Similar to other leave statutes and regulations, the Newark ordinance requires that employers provide notice to employees.  The required notice includes both (1) the provision of written notice upon commencement of employment and (2) the conspicuous display of a poster within the workplace, both of which must provide notice of the rights available to the employee under the law.

The law empowers both employees and the city’s Department of Child and Family Well-Being with the ability to file suit in municipal court for a violation.  Violators may face both fines and damages in the form of restitution of withheld paid sick time.

Amended New York City Paid Sick Leave Law Goes into Effect April 1, 2014

Melanie D. Lipomanis

The New York City Council has passed a resolution implementing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed amendments to the City’s sick leave law.  These amendments extend the law’s coverage to private sector businesses with five (5) or more employees (or one or more domestic workers).  Effective April 1, 2014, such employers will be required to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick time to employees, which may be used for the employee’s own illness or to care for a sick family member.  For employers with fewer than five employees, the sick leave may be unpaid.

For employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement on the date the law goes into effect, the law’s provisions do not become effective until the expiration of the agreement.

The amendments also expand the definition of “family member” to include an employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling (including half-siblings, step-siblings and siblings related through adoption), grandchild or grandparent, or the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner.

Employers will be required to maintain written records documenting their compliance with the law for three years.  The statute of limitations for violations of the law will increase from 270 days to two years from the date that the employee knew or should have known of the alleged violation.  Although the law does not provide employees with a private right of action, the City may impose fines and penalties, and award equitable relief and unpaid wages, for violations.

Employers have until May 1, 2014 to provide current and new employees with written notice of their rights under the law.

Jersey City Adopts Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

David J. Reilly and Harrison J. McAvoy

Jersey City is now among a growing number of cities that have adopted laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.  Jersey City’s ordinance became effective on January 24, 2014.

The ordinance requires employers with more than ten employees that operate within Jersey City to provide paid sick leave to all employees employed in Jersey City, regardless of full-time or part-time status. Employees of businesses with less than ten employees also must be permitted to accrue sick leave, but such leave may be unpaid.  In addition, the ordinance provides that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for taking sick leave, reporting a violation of the ordinance or engaging in other activities protected under the ordinance.

The ordinance creates a number of compliance issues for Jersey City employers.  Internal rules for accruing sick leave must satisfy some minimum requirements.  For instance, employees must accumulate sick leave at a rate of at least one hour of leave for every thirty hours worked.  Sick leave may be taken for both the employee’s own illness or to care for a family member (the ordinance contains a broad definition of “family member” that extends beyond the nuclear family).  In addition, employers must retain records pertaining to sick time taken by employees for three years.

Employers are not required to allow employees to use more than forty hours of sick leave in one calendar year and are not required to carry over more than forty hours for an employee from a prior calendar year.  The ordinance does not require employers to compensate employees for unused sick time upon termination of employment; however, if an employee is rehired after a separation of six months or less, that employee’s previously accrued sick leave must be reinstated.

The ordinance does contain some safeguards against employee abuse of sick leave.  For example, after three consecutive days of leave, an employer may require the employee to provide documentation from a health care professional stating that the time off is necessary.  However, an employer is prohibited from requiring that the documentation explain the nature of the illness.

An employer may satisfy the ordinance’s leave requirement through a pre-existing paid time off (“PTO”) leave policy which both permits taking leave for the purposes set forth in the ordinance and meets the ordinance’s minimum accrual requirements.  Thus, an employer with a compliant pre-existing leave policy need not provide any additional leave under the ordinance.

For unionized employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement in effect as of the effective date of the ordinance, the ordinance does not become effective until after the termination of the current collective bargaining agreement.

The ordinance also includes specific notice and posting requirements, violation of which may subject an employer to fines.  Employers must provide written notice of rights under the ordinance to individual employees, and display an informational poster in the workplace.  Both the notice and the poster must conform to certain foreign language requirements.  Forms of posters that satisfy the ordinance’s requirements are available on Jersey City’s website.