Newark Adopts Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

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Labor & Employment
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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.