I was just reading an article about labor and employment cases that employers will be watching in 2016.  The article got me thinking about legislation to watch in 2016.

40272860_sThe biggest nationwide trend is sick leave.  Effective today, thanks to Ordinance 121501, New Brunswick, New Jersey becomes the 10th municipality in New Jersey with a paid sick leave law.  New Brunswick will soon be followed by Elizabeth, whose Paid Sick Leave law passed by ballot initiative goes into effect, March 2, 2016.  At that point, New Jersey will have 11 municipalities with sick leave laws.  Not to be outdone, the New Jersey Senate recently passed S785 which would require every employer in the state to provide between 40 and 72 hours of paid sick leave a year, depending on the size of the employer.  That bill has gone to the Assembly which has been debating its own version of paid sick leave.

New Jersey is just one of many states where employers need to be on the alert for sick leave laws. Oregon’s statewide sick leave law went into effect on January 1, 2016, making it the fourth state with a paid sick leave law.

Although paid sick leave laws are generally gaining momentum, Pittsburgh employers recently gained a victory when the court enjoined Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave law which was scheduled to go into effect on January 11, 2016.

Even employers who are not in a state or city with a paid sick leave law need to be on the alert.  This is an issue likely to come up at the federal level after President Obama issued an Executive Order on Labor Day mandating that federal contractors provide sick leave for contracts issued after January 7, 2017.  I think the hope was that action would get Congress to revisit the bills that have stalled there.

Employers should check to see about whether there is a paid sick leave law anywhere they do business, not just where they are physically located.  Many of the sick leave laws apply to employees who are not permanently working in the jurisdiction but rather work only a few hours per year in the jurisdiction.  For example, Emeryville, California’s law applies to any employee who works at least 2 hours per week within Emeryville.  Other laws apply if the employee works 80 hours per year in the jurisdiction.  These laws are going to apply to employees who travel to the jurisdiction to perform work, not just employees who are regularly scheduled to go to work at a brick and mortar location within the jurisdiction.