26 MAY 2017 • FOGHORN LEGISLATIVEREPORT By Ed Welch, PV A Legislative Director D o you offer paid sick leave to your employees? More and more PVA members operate in a jurisdiction that requires employers to offer this benefit. Paid sick leave laws are proliferating among the states and some counties and cities. Although there is legislation pending in Congress to enact a nationwide law, it is not likely to be enacted soon. A new federal rule does set a mandatory paid sick leave requirement for certain contractors and conces- sionaires. But for the moment, state legislatures and even city councils are where the action is. There is no generally applicable federal requirement that an employer provide paid sick leave. However, companies that contract with the federal government after January 1, 2017, do have such a mandate. This is a result of a U.S. Department of Labor rule issued on September 30, 2016. The rule directs that a covered federal contractor must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave to a worker. It applies to federal contracts solicited for or awarded after January 1, 2017. When fully implemented, the rule will likely benefit an estimated 1.15 million employees. A PVA member who renews or obtains a ferry concession contract from the National Park Service will be subject to this rule. The complete rule can be accessed at www.ecfr.gov; it is found at Part 13 of Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations. Five states have paid sick leaves laws in effect now: Connecticut, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Vermont. In addition, the District of Columbia also has a law currently in effect. Provisions of these laws differ from state to state, so a PVAmember will need to examine carefully the law of the applicable jurisdiction. The California law covers all employers, large and small. Paid sick leave must be provided to each employee who has worked in California for the same employer at least 30 days in the year, regardless of whether the employee is part-time, hourly, seasonal, or temporary. An employer can choose the method by which an employee accrues paid sick leave, but the benchmark is one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The law allows the employer to impose a cap of accrued paid sick leave at 48 hours (6 days). Also, the employer has the right to limit the employee’s yearly use of paid sick leave to 24 hours (3 days), but this policy must be communicated to the employee in writing. An employee with a medical issue can use paid sick leave, and it is also available to care for a family member who is ill. The employee has the right to use the sick leave and does not need the employer’s consent to do so. The issue of advance notice to a California employer may be particularly vexing. The employee is supposed to notify the employer in advance if the sick leave is planned (for instance, in the case of a scheduled doctor’s visit), but if the need is unforeseeable (as may occur in the case of unanticipated illness or a medical emergency), the employee need only give notice as soon as practical. This may have consequenc- es for ensuring the proper number of crew members for a vessel. To complicate matters even further, the cities of San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, and San Diego have their our mandatory sick leave laws; employers in those jurisdictions must comply with whichever law is more generous, city or state. In Massachusetts, all employers that maintain an average of 11 or more employees must allow their employees to accrue and use paid sick leave. Other employers need only provide unpaid sick leave. The term “employee” is defined broadly, much like in California. An employee will accrue one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked, up to a cap of 40 hours of leave. Paid sick leave laws also exist at the county or city level. Such statutes exist in Montgomery County, Maryland; New York City; San Francisco; San Diego; Los Angeles; Seattle; Philadelphia; and others. Other states have enacted paid sick leave laws that will go into effect later this year or in 2018. They include: Washington State, Maryland, New York State, and Arizona. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires certain “larger” employers (generally, one with 50 or more employees, each of whom works at least 20 weeks in a year) to provide unpaid leave (generally up to 12 weeks) to workers, but as mentioned before, there is no federal law States Lead the Way on Paid Sick Leave Laws There is no generally applicable federal requirement that an employer provide paid sick leave. However, companies that contract with the federal government after January 1, 2017, do have such a mandate.