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(Editor's Note: Mayor Tim Dougherty has signed an executive order delaying implementation of this ordinance until Jan. 11, 2017.)
On Sept. 14, Morristown, N.J., became New Jersey's 13th municipality to require private employers to provide paid sick time to employees. (Morristown joins Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Montclair, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson, Passaic, Plainfield and Trenton, which have previously enacted paid-sick-leave laws.) The Morristown ordinance takes effect on Oct. 4, leaving employers little time to modify policies and ensure compliance.
The Morristown ordinance largely follows the language of ordinances adopted by most other New Jersey municipalities with paid-sick-leave laws. Therefore, employers with other New Jersey locations may already be familiar with the requirements of the Morristown ordinance. The ordinance requires that employers provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, to be used in connection with either the employee's own medical condition or to care for a family member, as defined in the ordinance.
To qualify for this benefit, an employee must work at least 80 hours in a calendar year for a private entity that operates in Morristown. The ordinance specifically excludes all government employees and members of construction unions who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. The Morristown ordinance applies to all private employers, regardless of size, although employers that employ fewer than 10 employees may cap paid sick leave at 24 hours per calendar year. However, child care, home health care and food service employees must be entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, even if employed by a small employer. Paid sick time is accrued at the rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.
The Morristown ordinance permits employers to request that an employee confirm in writing that the paid sick time was used for a purpose authorized under the ordinance. An employer may require an employee to provide reasonable documentation that the time was used for a covered purpose after an employee uses paid sick time for three consecutive days or three consecutive instances. However, an employer cannot require information about the nature of the illness.
Like other New Jersey municipal paid-sick-leave laws, the Morristown ordinance contains notice and posting requirements. Employers must provide individual written notice to each employee about his or her rights under the ordinance and display a poster containing notice of the ordinance in a conspicuous and accessible place in each business establishment where employees are employed. The notice and poster must be in English and any language that is the primary language of at least 10% of the employer's workforce. Additionally, the ordinance prohibits retaliation and interference with an employee's right to use his or her paid sick leave.
Due to the quickly approaching effective date, Morristown employers, as well as multistate and nationwide employers with employees in Morristown, should review and revise sick leave policies and procedures, as well as anti-retaliation policies, to ensure they meet the ordinance's requirements. Additionally, employers should obtain or prepare compliant notices and posters and ensure their timekeeping and payroll systems properly calculate and track accrued and used sick time. Employers should consider training supervisory and managerial employees, as well as human resources, on the ordinance's requirements. Specifically, they should be made aware of the restrictions on requesting documentation and the possible restrictions on attendance policies as they pertain to an employee's use of paid sick time.
Lauren J. Marcus is an attorney with Littler in Newark, N.J. © Littler. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission.
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