December 4th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Paid Sick Leave Laws Gain Ground Across Cities and States

The many changes to employment laws in the past year and what updates could be on the horizon for 2018 can be quite overwhelming to an employer. If regulations are not complied properly, an organization might have to deal with penalties. There is no doubt that any election and new administration can generate uncertainty over what rules/laws will be created or repealed and how those rules/laws will be enforced by our courts. 

Sterling recently presented the “HR Compliance in 2018: Are You Ready?” webinar to share compliance-related updates that have taken place in 2017 and how they affect the background screening industry. Jennifer L. Mora, Senior Counsel of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, shared the many compliance changes from ban the box to salary history ban laws to paid sick leave laws that took place in the past year and best practices to keep compliant with the changes in 2018.

Paid Sick Leave Laws

One part of the webinar that Jennifer Mora discussed during the webinar was the explosion of local Paid Sick Leave laws and ordinances.

As of 2014, there were only five sick leave laws in effect. Today, there are at least 43 local laws and ordinances governing sick leave including state laws in California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont, Arizona, Washington and Rhode Island along with ordinances in 34 municipalities. More cities, counties and states are set to adopt the Paid Sick Leave laws in the next year including Rhode Island, New Jersey and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Also, federal contractors are subject to Executive Order 13706, which began requiring paid sick leave on January 1, 2017.

  • The eight states that have enacted the Paid Sick Leave Laws are: (1) Connecticut; (2) California; (3) Massachusetts; (4) Oregon; (5) Vermont; (6) Arizona; (7) Washington (effective January 2018); (8) Rhode Island (effective July 2018)
  • The municipalities (cities and counties) that have enacted the Paid Sick Leave Laws: (1) San Francisco, CA; (2) Washington, D.C.; (3) Seattle, WA; (4) Long Beach, CA; (5) SeaTac, WA; (6) New York City, NY; (7) Jersey City, NJ; (8) Newark, NJ; (9) Passaic, NJ; (10) East Orange, NJ; (11) Paterson, NJ; (12) Irvington, NJ; (13) Los Angeles, CA (2 laws); (14) Oakland, CA; (15) Montclair, NJ; (16) Trenton, NJ; (17) Bloomfield, NJ; (18) Philadelphia, PA; (19) Tacoma, WA; (20) Emeryville, CA; (21) Montgomery County, MD; (22) Pittsburgh, PA; (23) Elizabeth, NJ; (24) New Brunswick, NJ; (25) Spokane, WA; (26) Santa Monica, CA; (27) Plainfield, NJ; (28) Minneapolis, MN; (29) San Diego, CA; (30) Chicago, IL; (31) Berkeley, CA; (32) Saint Paul, MN; (33) Morristown, NJ; (34) Cook County, IL.

Requirements for Paid Sick Leave Laws

The municipal and state Paid Sick Leave laws differ in critical ways from the amount of sick time offered to how much time can be used at one time. Each city and state has different compliance requirements.

  • Which employers are covered: The employers who are covered will usually depend on the number of employees they have. Some states start with one employee (California), and others start with 50 employees, (CT).
  • Which employees Are Covered: The employees who are covered by the Paid Sick Leave Laws will depend on the number of hours they work per week.
  • Time Accrual Caps: Paid Sick Leave accrual caps go from 40 hours a year in a few cities with unlimited caps in Seattle.
  • Rate of Accrual: Rate of accrual will also vary per location based on the number of hours worked. Some states and cities accrue at every 30 hours worked while Washington DC is for every 87 hours worked.
  • Employers Ability to Limit Annual Use: Employers can put a limit on annual Paid Sick Leave used from the number of hours or days.
  • Carryover Requirements: Most laws require carryover of various amounts of accrued, unused Paid Sick Leave at year end with some locations “cashing out” the amount of time to employees.
  • Waiting Period: States and cities vary in the length of a waiting period before Paid Sick Leave can be used with California allowing use at 90 days, but Connecticut requiring 680 hours worked.
  • Incremental Time Requirements: The amount of minimum time an employer will allow employees to use Paid Sick Leave can vary from 15 minutes to four hours. This will also depend on the smallest increment of time the employer’s payroll system can account for.
  • Covered Family Members: Some of the Paid Sick Leave laws will cover family members as well as the employee. The determination will depend on the city or state of the organization.
  • Employee Notice: Each state or city has a different requirement for employee notice to employers to use Paid Sick Leave. The notice required can range from “a reasonable advanced” time up to 10 days.
  • Reasonable Documentation: Each state or municipality has set a time limit for the number of Paid Sick Leave days used consecutively.
  • Recordkeeping Requirements: Employers are given specific time limits to keep Paid Sick Leave records from two years to up to four years.

Employers, especially those with nationwide operations, must find the best compliance option. Some options include a time accrual system, unlimited PTO or PTO, vacation, paid leave policies as compliance options.

For more information on changes in employment laws including ban the box, salary history bans and updates for overtime and minimum wage laws listen to the OnDemand version of the webinar, “HR Compliance 2018, Are You Ready?”

Please note: Sterling is not a law firm. The material available in this publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We encourage you to consult with your legal counsel to obtain a legal opinion specific to your needs.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.