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Expansion of paid sick leave laws expected to continue in 2019

By Cindy Brockhausen and William (Bill) Kalten | January 24, 2019

As the number and variety of such laws grow, multistate employers may wish to consider crafting a uniform policy that meets all requirements in their jurisdictions.
Health and Benefits|Wellbeing

2018 recap

Although Rhode Island was the only jurisdiction to enact a paid sick leave (PSL) law in 2017, three states — Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey — and four localities — Austin, Duluth, San Antonio and Westchester County — enacted PSL laws in 2018. There are now 11 states with PSL mandates: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The number of local jurisdictions with a PSL law currently stands at 22. For a current listing of all the states and localities with a PSL law, see the map below. Given the current political landscape and absent a federal mandate, these numbers are expected to increase in 2019.

Recently enacted PSL laws

Below is a summary of the PSL laws enacted since our previous update (see “New Jersey becomes 10th state to mandate paid sick/safe leave for workers,” Willis Towers Watson Insider, May 2018).

Michigan’s PSL law requires that employers with more than 50 employees provide one hour of PSL for every 35 hours of work. Rather than accruing leave on an hourly basis, employers can provide at least 40 hours of PSL at the beginning of each benefit year, which may be prorated for new employees. Employers may limit use and accrual of PSL to 40 hours a year but must carry over unused leave to the next year (unless the frontloading method is used). The law takes effect on April 1, 2019.

Under the PSL ordinance enacted by Duluth, Minnesota, employers with five or more employees must provide covered employees working in Duluth with one hour of PSL for every 50 hours worked. Alternatively, employers can frontload 40 hours of leave at the beginning of each year. Employees can accrue up to 64 hours per year and carry forward 40 hours to the next year, although usable leave is capped at 40 hours a year. Duluth is the third city in Minnesota to pass its own PSL law, joining Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Duluth’s PSL ordinance takes effect January 1, 2020.

In San Antonio, Texas, the sick leave law mandates one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours a year (employers with fewer than 16 employees must provide up to 48 hours a year). Unused PSL is carried over to the next year, subject to the 64- and 48-hour caps. However, employees may not use more than eight PSL days a year. Employers that frontload eight days of PSL at the beginning of the year do not have to carry over unused leave. The law takes effect on August 1, 2019, for employers with more than five employees, and on August 1, 2021, for employers with five or fewer employees. San Antonio is the second city in Texas to pass its own PSL law; however, Austin’s PSL law, which was scheduled to go into effect on October 1, 2018, is currently on hold pending a court challenge.

The PSL law enacted by Westchester County, New York, requires employers to provide one hour of PSL for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year. (For employers with fewer than five employees, the required leave may be unpaid.) Accrued, unused sick leave can be carried over to the following year, provided that sick leave for any given year does not exceed 40 hours. Westchester County and New York City are the only jurisdictions in New York with PSL laws. Westchester County’s PSL law is anticipated to take effect on April 10, 2019.

Going forward

Employers should remain vigilant in 2019 for any state and local PSL law developments in their places of operation. Covered employers in states and localities with PSL laws should review their existing leave policies and procedures to ensure they comply with all applicable laws, and that their payroll records properly track the amount of sick leave accrued and used by employees. Federal contractors need to comply with Executive Order 13706 and its related regulations (see “DOL publishes final rule for federal contractors’ provision of paid sick leave,” Willis Towers Watson Insider, November 2016).

As the number and variety of such laws g, multistate employers may wish to consider crafting a uniform policy that meets all requirements in their jurisdictions. However, depending on the jurisdictions involved, this may prove challenging since some PSL laws contain provisions that could hinder the development of uniform policies.

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