Paid Sick & Safe Time FAQ

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Who Is Covered?

Q: Which employers are covered?

A: There are two tests to determine if an employer is required to comply with the Sick/Safe Pay Ordinance

1) Business is based in New Brunswick. This includes main offices/stores, branch offices/stores, franchise locations etc., and

2) Business has 5 or more full time equivalents (FTE) (Each 35 hours worked by “Part-Time” and “Full-Time” employees equals one FTE)

Q: Which employees are covered?

A: Full-time and part-time employees who work for an employer who is covered. (see above)

Q: Who is an employee?

A: An employee is defined using the State’s statutory definition in the NJ Wage and Hour Law – “Employee” includes any individual employed by an employer.”

Q: Which employees are covered and how many Paid Sick/Safe Hours can be earned?

A: Employers with less than 5 full-time equivalent employees (FTE’s) are not required to provide Sick/Safe Time.

  • Employers with 5 or more FTE’s and up to 9 total employees are required to provide up to 24 hours of Sick/Safe Time.
  • Employers with 10 or more employees with at least 5 FTE’s are required to provide up to 40 hours for full-time employees and 24 hours for part-time employees of Sick/Safe Time. (See the below table.)

Eligible Business Table

Q: How does the ordinance define what a full-time employee is and what is a part-time employee?

A: A “Full-Time Employee” is an employee who averages 35 hours per week or more. A “Part-Time Employee” is an employee who averages at least 20 hours worked per week but less than 35 hours per week.

Q:What is a full-time equivalent (FTE)?

A: Every 35 hours worked by employees the ordinance defines as full-time or part-time employees. If an employee works 40 hours per week, that is 1.14 FTE. An employee working 35 hours per week is 1 FTE. A worker working 24 hours per week is .69 FTE. If a business has 4 full-time employees at 35 hours per week and 2 part-time employees at 20 hours per week, the business has 5.14 FTE’s.

Q: Whose hours counts towards an FTE?

A: Only hours worked by “Part-Time” and “Full-Time” employees who work at least part of that time physically in New Brunswick or qualified THSF workers count towards an FTE.

FTE Whose Hours Count Table

Q: Does the business owner(s), partner(s), principal(s) count as an employee?

A: No. An employee is defined using the State’s statutory definition in the NJ Wage and Hour Law (NJSA 34:11-56a1(h))

Q: How fast do I earn Sick/Safe Time?

A: You earn 1 hour of sick/safe time for every 35 hours you actually work if you average 20 hours of work per week. The maximum sick/safe hours earned is capped at 24 hours for some employees and 40 hours for others. If you work 35 hours per week, you earn 1 hour of sick/safe time. If you work 20 hours per week, you earn 0.57 hour of sick/safe time. (See the above table.)

Q: What can Paid Sick/Safe Time be used for?

A: Generally, paid sick/safe time can be used for:Photo Two Moms

  • Physical illness, injury, health condition or preventative care of the employee, their partner or family member;
  • Closure of the employee’s business or their child’s school or place of care by order of a public official due to a public health emergency;
  • Care of a family member when health authorities have determined the family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others;
  • Reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking

When Does the Ordinance Become Effective?

Q: When does the New Brunswick Sick/Safe Pay Ordinance become effective?

A: The Ordinance is effective as of January 6, 2016.

Q: Do I get credit for hours I have worked in the job before the Ordinance became effective?

A: No, the Ordinance is prospective. Hours to qualify for sick/safe pay do not begin to accrue until after the ordinance becomes effective.

Earning Sick/Safe Time:

Q: When do I begin to earn sick/safe time?

A: From either the effective date of the ordinance if you are employed when the Ordinance takes effect or from your date of employment if you start working after the Ordinance’s effective date.

Q:   When can I start to use my sick/safe pay hours?

A:  1) If already employed when the Ordinance becomes effective, earned sick/safe time can be used 120 calendar days after the effective date of the Ordinance, which is May 5, 2016.

2) If hired after the effective date of the ordinance, you can start to use earned sick/safe time after 120 days from the date of your employment.

Q: My employer already provides me with more benefit time than the Ordinance provides to me. Do I lose my existing benefits?

A:  No. The Ordinance provides minimum standards. If your job offers you more benefit time than provided for in the Ordinance, your employer does not have to reduce the benefits.

Disclosure/Documentation:

Q: Do I have to tell my employer why I am using sick/safe time?Photo Doc Patient

A: No. You do not have to disclose the reason you are sick or need to use safe time. However, your employer can require a “doctor’s note” or similar documentation if you have an extended absence. Restaurant/drinking establishment employees may be required to provide documentation if using sick/safe time on certain holidays. Documentation from a health professional must confirm that you were treated or seen by the professional, but not the reason why.

If sick time is used to assist a family member, the family member’s health care professional should confirm that you assisted the family member with a health matter, but the nature of the health matter does not need to be disclosed.

Q: Do I have to give my employer advance notice I am using sick/safe time?

A: Employees should notify their employer as soon as reasonably practical after they become aware of the need to use sick/safe time. Employees should attempt to give at least 7 days notice for scheduled procedures/doctor visits.

Employment Agency Employees:

Q: Are employees of New-Brunswick-based temporary help service firms (THSF) covered for sick/safe hours?

A: It depends on the circumstance.

  • If the THSF employee is working physically in New Brunswick, the employee earns sick/safe pay hours.
  • If the THSF employee is physically working in another town and is transported from New Brunswick to the workplace by transportation provided through the THSF, the employee is covered by the ordinance if they otherwise qualify for sick/safe time.
  • If the THSF employee is physically working in another town and does not use transportation provided through the THSF, the employee is not covered by the ordinance.
  • If the employee works for a New Brunswick-based THSF and the employee works at locations both in and outside of New Brunswick, the employee is presumed to qualify as a PT employee. The THSF employer can challenge the presumption, but must have “clear and convincing evidence” to override the presumption.

Q: If an employee of a THSF based outside of New Brunswick is physically working in New Brunswick, does that employee earn sick/safe hours?

A: No. The City does not have jurisdiction over an employer based outside of New Brunswick and can not compel that employer to provide benefits.

Employees Working In and Outside of New Brunswick/Change in FT-PT Status/Tipped Employees

Q: If an employee works for a business required to provide sick/safe hours but works at multiple locations, some of which are in New Brunswick and some of which are outside New Brunswick, how does the Ordinance apply to the employer and employee?

A: The hours physically worked in New Brunswick are the factor that controls this situation. An employee is only covered for the hours worked in New Brunswick, not the total hours worked

  • If the employee physically works 20 hours or more per week in New Brunswick, the employee is treated as a FT or PT employee based on the number of New Brunswick hours.
    1. If the employee works FT hours at multiple locations, but less than 35 hours and more than 20 hours in New Brunswick, the employee is governed by the standards and benefits for a PT employee. (Example: Employee works 40 hrs total per week with 24 hrs physically in New Brunswick.)
    2. If the employee works FT hours at multiple location and the New Brunswick hours are 35 or more per week, the employee is governed by the standards and benefits for a FT employee, (Example: Employee works 45 hrs total per week with 36 hrs in New Brunswick.)
  • If the employee physically works less than 20 hours per week in New Brunswick, the employee is not due sick/safe hours

Q: I accrued sick/safe time as a FT employee and have earned more than 24 hours of such time. I have now become a PT employee for the same employer. Am I now capped at 24 hours for the year or can I use more than 24 hours because I earned them as a FT employee?

A: If the employee earned more than the 24 hours of Sick/Safe Time before changing to part-time status, the employee can use the hours in excess of 24 hours within the 40 hour annual cap. Once the employee starts part-time status, the employee can not earn more than 24 hours in a calendar year.

Q: If an employee is a “tipped employee”, at what wage rate is the employee paid when they use sick/safe time?

A: NJ minimum wage (N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a), but the employee is not entitled to any tips or commissions for the period taken as sick/safe time.

Complaints:

Q: I believe my employer has not followed some of the sick/safe time rules in the Ordinance. Where do I file a complaint so the problem can be corrected?

A: Complaints are filed with the City’s Sick/Safe Pay Administrator (SPA). Complaint forms are available online or can be picked up in the Department of Planning and Development, located in the Civic Square Building next to City Hall. The office is on the 2nd floor.

Q: What happens when I file a complaint?

A: The SPA will contact you to discuss the complaint and to get more information if necessary. If the SPA’s investigation determines the complaint to be valid, the SPA will contact the employer and attempt to mediate the complaint with the employee and the employer. If the complaint is resolved through mediation, no further action is necessary. If the complaint is not resolved through mediation, the SPA will forward the complaint to the New Brunswick Municipal Court. The Court will set a hearing date to hear the dispute.

Q: Are complaints confidential?

A: It depends. If a complaint is made about an employer’s failure to follow requirements of the Ordinance, e.g., a complaint that affects some or all of the employees at the business, the complaint can be kept confidential. However, if the complaint is specific to a particular employee, e.g., the failure to pay sick time on a certain day to a particular employee, the nature of the complaint does not allow it to be confidential.