Vermont has become the fifth state to enact a paid sick leave law, following Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Oregon. Vermont’s new law generally covers employees who work an average of at least 18 hours a week. The law will be phased in starting January 1, 2017, when covered employers must provide at least 24 hours of paid sick leave a year, and ending January 1, 2019, when the minimum rises to 40 hours. Employers with five or fewer employees are not subject to the law until January 1, 2018.

Other recent paid sick leave developments

Plainfield has joined the growing list of jurisdictions in New Jersey — it’s now 12 — that require paid sick leave. For the most part, Plainfield’s new ordinance follows the language in the other New Jersey ordinances — Bloomfield, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Montclair, Newark, New Brunswick, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton.

Santa Monica has delayed its implementation of paid sick leave from July 1, 2016, until January 1, 2017, and is also phasing in the hours of leave employees can accrue (and carry over). As of January 1, 2018, paid sick leave in Santa Monica must be at least 72 hours (nine days) for large employers and 40 hours for small employers.

New York City amended regulations and updated frequently asked questions implementing its Earned Sick Time Act. The new guidance most notably focuses on written sick-time policies and what an employer must include in them, and also addresses front-loading and carryover of hours.

Los Angeles and Chicago could be the next jurisdictions to enact paid sick leave ordinances.The Los Angeles City Council recently voted to draft an ordinance requiring all employers to provide six days of paid sick leave a year (state law mandates three days). If enacted, the ordinance would go into effect on July 1, 2016 (July 1, 2017, for employers with fewer than 25 employees). Chicago’s proposal would require all employers to provide at least five days of paid sick leave per year starting July 1, 2017.

Some states ban local sick leave laws

As part of a countertrend, North Carolina and Arizona recently enacted preemptive legislation banning local governments from passing paid sick leave laws, joining the ranks of at least 12 other states that already have such laws: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee (Oregon bans localities from enacting their own laws only because of its statewide mandate). In 2011, Wisconsin enacted legislation that bars cities, villages and counties from enacting family and medical leave rules that deviate from state standards, which effectively eliminated Milwaukee’s paid sick leave ordinance.

Activity at the federal level

Efforts in Congress to gain approval of a nationwide paid sick leave law remain stalled. However, Executive Order (EO) 13706 requires certain federal contractors to provide up to seven paid sick days per year.* The Department of Labor has proposed a rule to implement EO 13706, and the executive order directs the Secretary of Labor to issue the final rule by September 30, 2016.

Going forward

The map below shows states, and states with localities, that have paid sick leave laws, as well as states that have enacted bans prohibiting local governments from enacting such laws.

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Covered employers in states and localities with paid sick leave laws should review their existing leave policies and procedures to ensure they comply with the laws in their jurisdictions and that their payroll records properly track sick leave accrual and usage. As these laws become more widespread, multistate employers may wish to explore ways to craft a uniform policy that satisfies all jurisdictional requirements.


*See “Federal Contractors Required to Provide Paid Sick Leave Under New Executive Order,” Willis Towers Watson Insider, October 2015.