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Language Requirements for Earned Sick Time Ordinance
February 3, 2014
On January 24, 2014, Jersey City’s new Earned Sick Time Ordinance took effect. The new law requires that all local businesses with 10 or more employees provide up to 5 paid sick days to their employees each year and companies with fewer employees to provide 5 unpaid sick days.

While this law is specific to Jersey City, other jurisdictions on both the city and state level are looking to enact similar regulations. Newark, NJ is ready to follow suit and a similar bill is pending action in the state legislature. Besides New Jersey, efforts have been taken to pass such regulations in New York City, while laws already exist in Washington D.C., Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and the state of Connecticut.

While the language requirements may vary from statute to statute, Jersey City requires that the employer "provide a translation of the notices and posters in any language that is the first language of at least 10 percent of the workforce provided that the Department has made available a translation of such notice into such language." Jersey City has written translations of their FAQs for both employees and workers in Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Spanish Polish, Portuguese and Tagalog. The FAQ translations were completed by Para-Plus and are available to be downloaded from their website.

For the Jersey City ordinance, it would be the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the necessary translations, and the employer would be required to post and distribute the information accordingly.  Not providing notice of the new law could result in a fine up to $100 for each employee not given notice and $500 for each establishment where a poster is not displayed.

This is just one example of the steps elected officials are taking to ensure speakers with limited English are informed about policy changes that affect them. The posting of such notices in their native languages will allow them to know what their rights are under the new regulations. In the case of Jersey City and others, such regulations are believed to have a great impact on low-wage workers and minorities, where the loss of wages or penalization for taking care of themselves or a family member can be detrimental.  

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