The Proliferation of Paid Sick Leave Laws

As calls for paid sick leave and paid maternity leave reach a federal level (see the Healthy Families Act in 2014 and the Family Act in 2015), multistate employers are already having to comply with state and local paid-sick-leave laws. Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington D.C. have all enacted paid sick leave laws. On top of that, Montgomery County, Maryland; San Francisco; Seattle; New York City; Oakland; Tacoma, Washington; Emeryville, California; Pittsburgh; and 10 New Jersey municipalities have enacted their own paid-sick leave laws.

Even more, Los Angeles and Long Beach passed laws that grant paid sick leave to certain hotel workers, and SeaTac, Washington passed a law that provides certain hospitality and transportation workers the right to earn paid sick leave. Federal contractors will be required to provide paid sick leave beginning in January 2017. Even Colorado and the city of Denver saw paid sick leave laws introduced, but not passed, in the past few years. The number of states and municipalities with paid-sick-leave requirements could rise in the near future. Virginia; Oakland County, Michigan; Minneapolis; and Bellingham, Washington are currently considering paid-sick-leave requirements.

The minefield of compliance can be quite complicated, even when an employer already provides its employees with paid sick leave or PTO, as paid-sick-leave laws tend to differ in subtle ways. In fact, a California employer in the hotel industry could conceivably be subject to different paid sick leave policies in San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, in addition to the state requirement!

Some jurisdictions recognize that the struggle is real and have made efforts to minimize the impact on employers. Oregon’s paid sick leave law preempts local paid-sick-leave laws, leaving only state law to be followed, as of January 1, 2016. Nevertheless, paid sick leave may be on the horizon for the mountain states served by Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) and the Employers Council.

MSEC provides paid sick leave guidance for the adopted mountain state of California and federal contractors.