In September 2014, four cities in New Jersey passed paid sick time laws: Passaic, East Orange, Paterson (the third largest city in NJ), and Irvington! In November 2014, two additional cities in New Jersey passed paid sick time laws at the polls: Trenton and Montclair. Then, in March 2015, the Bloomfield Township Council passed a paid sick time law. In November 2015, 84% of voters in Elizabeth passed a paid sick time ballot initiative, and in December, New Brunswick passed a more limited paid sick time law. Most recently, the Plainfield Municipal Council adopted a paid sick time law on March 14, 2016.
Paid sick time laws are now in effect in all of the New Jersey cities except for Plainfield, which was adopted on March 14, 2016, and takes effect 120 days following enactment.
The City Council of Passaic unanimously passed a paid sick time law on September 2, 2014, the City Council of East Orange passed a paid sick time law on September 8, 2014 (with all present voting in favor), and the City Councils of Paterson and Irvington both passed paid sick time laws on September 9, 2014 (with all present in each city voting in favor). In each of these cities, the paid sick time law will go into effect 120 days following enactment.
On November 4, 2014, Trenton and Montclair voted overwhelmingly to guarantee paid sick time last night (with more than 85% of voters in support in Trenton and nearly 75% of voters in support in Montclair). These laws will also go into effect 120 days following enactment. However, in early 2015, some business groups brought a lawsuit to block Trenton's voter-approved paid sick time law. On April 16, 2015, a judge in NJ dismissed the case. The court's decision blocked business efforts to undermine the will of the people of Trenton to pass paid sick days and was a clear message that cities have the right to pass laws to protect their citizens. A Better Balance advised on this case, since we helped to research, draft, and pass these municipal paid sick time laws in NJ.
On March 2, 2015, the Bloomfield Township Council unanimously passed a paid sick time law with mayoral support, and on November 3, 2015, voters in Elizabeth passed a paid sick time law with 84% of the vote. Plainfield adopted its law on March 14, 2016.
The following description applies to the paid sick time laws in the following 9 cities: Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Trenton, Montclair, Bloomfield, Elizabeth, and Plainfield:
In private-sector businesses with 10 or more employees (and all child care, home health care, and food service workers, regardless of the size of their employer), workers will be entitled to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year. In private-sector businesses with fewer than 10 employees, workers will have a right to accrue and use up to 24 hours of paid sick time a year.
Under the law, workers can use paid sick time to recover from their own illness or to care for sick family members. The law covers a broad range of family members (children; parents; the parents of a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner; spouses, including same-sex spouses; civil union partners; domestic partners; grandchildren; grandparents; a grandparent’s spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner; and siblings).
A Better Balance worked on all of these municipal campaigns (except New Brunswick, as described below) and provided legal support to advocates in New Jersey. Furthermore, we were on hand in both Passaic and Paterson, in order to answer City Council Members' questions about the law, address any of their concerns, and testify about the benefits of paid sick time. In addition to A Better Balance’s work providing extensive legal support, research, and bill drafting assistance to advocates in these cities (as well as Jersey City and Newark), our staff is working to pass paid sick time statewide in New Jersey.
In December 2015, the city of New Brunswick passed a narrower paid sick and safe time law that departs from the more comprehensive laws in the other 10 cities described on this page and our comparison chart. A Better Balance did not work on drafting this law. In covered businesses with 10 or more employees: full-time workers (averaging 35 hours/week) are entitled to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick/safe time per year, while part-time employees (averaging 20-35 hours/week) are entitled to earn up to 24 hours. In covered businesses with more than 5 full-time equivalent employees but fewer than 10 employees, workers are entitled to earn up to 24 hours a week. However, the law excludes all workers employed for an average of less than 20 hours per week. The law also exempts all government and board of education workers, independent contractors, individuals who work from home, and certain “per diem” hospital employees who work on a flexible, “as needed” basis to cover for other absent hospital workers. See New Brunswick's website for more.
Photo of Jared Make (A Better Balance's Senior Staff Attorney) with the New Jersey Paid Sick Days Coalition and a Paterson City Council Member (and paid sick time sponsor) following the successful vote at the Paterson City Council.