October 9, 2014; CBS New York
New Jersey lawmakers gathered last Thursday to discuss whether the paid sick leave law already in effect for Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and a few other cities should be expanded statewide. The vote has been postponed.
According to the current city laws, which took effect in Jersey City this past January, employees with 10 or more employees are required to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an individual works. Workers for small employers can accrue up to 40 hours annually of sick leave, or five days, and up to 72 hours for individuals at larger employers.
The Labor Department reported last year that as of 2012, while three in four full-time workers had access to paid sick leave across the country, only one in four part-time workers did.
The discussion of the proposed bill was met vigorously in the crowded room with both support and opposition, even after the vote had been postponed.
As when some cities originally passed the mandate, supporters believe the expansion of the law would be helpful for the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of lower income workers, who often cannot afford to take days off when they are ill. “An earned sick day standard will boost our state’s working families’ economic and personal health,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the NJ Citizen Action group.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has been enthusiastic about the positive effects the law has had in the community. “There are countless examples of families it has helped, working families,” Fulop said. Jersey City’s passing of the law inspired other cities with prominent low-income communities, like Newark and East Orange, to adopt similar laws.
On the other hand, conservative business groups still oppose the law as detrimental for the state’s economy, as they believe businesses looking to avoid the mandate and its added responsibility will relocate to a different state.