17347130_sJust when we reported that Pittsburgh employers have gotten a reprieve from sick leave laws, New Jersey employers have yet another sick leave law with which to contend.

On December 16, 2015, the New Brunswick City Council passed Ordinance 121501 which will require New Brunswick employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.  That means that there will be 11 municipalities in New Jersey who have sick leave laws in effect in 2016.  To quote Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” “There must be some way out of here. . . . There’s too much confusion. I can’t get no relief.”

Adding to employers’ headaches is the fact the New Brunswick law differs from the other laws that have been passed.  However, the New Brunswick law is actually a more logical and business-friendly law than in the other 10 municipalities.  New Brunswick’s law focuses on the status of the employee to determine whether leave is available and if so, how much leave is available.  New Brunswick’s law also only applies to employers who have a business location in New Brunswick and who have at least 5 Full-Time Equivalent employees.

Under the law, employees are categorized as full-time or part-time and that classification determines the amount of leave the employee can accrue.  Full-time employees are defined as someone who averages 35 hours per week.  Part-time employees are defined as those who work between 20 and 35 hours per week.  Employees who average less than 20 hours per week or who are per diem or temporary employees for a hospital are not eligible to accrue paid time off.  Likewise, employees who work from home are not eligible for paid time off.

The law also differs from the other municipal laws in that leave accrues at the rate of 1 hour earned for every 35 hours worked.  Full-time employees may accrue up to 40 hours per year; part-time employees accrue up to 24 hours per year.  However, an employer with less than 10 total employees does not have to allow employees to accrue more than 24 hours per year.  Eligible employees begin to accrue time on the first day of employment and can use accrued time after the completion of 120 days of employment.

Leave may be taken for the following reasons:

  • the Employee’s mental or physical illness or injury, including the need for diagnosis and preventative care;
  • care for a family member’s mental or physical illness or injury, including the need for diagnosis and preventative care;
  • closure of the employee’s place of business or the employee’s child ‘s school  due to a public health emergency, or to care for a family member who has been quarantined;
  • as needed related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employers in New Brunswick will need to examine sick/paid time off policies to insure compliance with the laws.  Even employers who have already reviewed policies due to one of the other municipal leave laws may need to take a second look given the differences in New Brunswick’s law.

The law goes into effect quickly.  It will be effective January 6, 2016.  The City has already issued the required poster which can be found here.