United States: Paid Sick Leave Laws Soon Implemented Across 24 Jurisdictions

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Paid sick days legislation, or campaigns to enact legislation, is becoming more common throughout the United States. There will soon be 24 jurisdictions across the country including four states and the District of Columbia which have active Paid Sick Leave laws. San Francisco became the first locality in the nation to guarantee workers access to earned paid sick days when the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance went into effect on February 5, 2007. In 2012, Connecticut became the first in the nation to pass a statewide paid sick days law. That same year, Seattle, Washington adopted the nation’s fourth paid sick time law. New legislature and ballot measures began to pass throughout the United States in 2013. The majority of these ballot measures passed with overwhelming voter support and the majority of new Paid Sick Leave laws became effective over the course of 2014 and 2015.

<2010 2012 2014 2015 2016
San Francisco, CA (2007) Connecticut Jersey City, NJ East Orange, NJ Trenton, NJ Oregon
District of Columbia(2008) Seattle, WA New York City, NY Irvington, NJ Philadelphia, PA Pittsburgh, PA
Long Beach, CA Newark, NJ Passaic, NJ Bloomfield, NJ Tacoma, WA
Los Angeles, CA Paterson, NJ California
Portland, OR* Oakland, CA Emeryville, CA Montgomery County, MD**
Montclair, NJ Massachusetts San Diego, CA**
* May be repealed on 1/1/2016       **PENDING with Proposed 2016 Effective date

It's important to note that eligibility for any paid leave benefit is based on the employee’s work location (not residence). Employees who work remotely will be eligible based on the physical location of their remote work location, such as their home office. The work location zip code should be the main point of reference for eligibility as opposed to the city name. While eligibility rules vary by ordinance, all paid sick leave accrual is based on hours worked within the local city / state. In general, paid sick leave may be used for the eligible employee’s own illness, injury or medical/preventative care, or for illness, injury or medical/preventative care for the eligible employee’s “family member” (as defined by each ordinance).

On June 23, 2015, the Montgomery County Council passed a paid sick time law, which will go into effect on October 1, 2016. This makes Montgomery County, Maryland the first county to establish a paid sick days standard. With an uptick in localities passing paid sick time legislation over the past two years, there may have more counties passing similar laws during 2016. Because more cities in close proximity to one another will start to propose paid sick time ballot measures, especially in more densely populated areas such as the counties surrounding the San Francisco bay area and counties throughout New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois.

As of July 2015, paid sick days legislation or campaigns to enact legislation exist in Alaska, Arizona, California, Chicago, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Efforts to implement or defend existing paid sick days laws exist in Bloomfield, NJ; East Orange, NJ; Emeryville, CA; Irvington, NJ; Massachusetts, Montclair, NJ; Montgomery County, NJ; New York City, NY; Oakland, CA; Oregon, Passaic, NJ; Paterson, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Tacoma, WA and Trenton, NJ.