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Jersey City wins paid sick days, better protection for workers

Guest Blog By Yarrow Willman-Cole, New Jersey Time to Care Coalition

 Adding to the growing number of cities and states that ensure working people are able to take time off when they are sick, the Jersey City Council voted 7-1 to pass the Earned Sick Time Ordinance on September 25, 2013. Jersey City becomes the sixth city in the country to adopt such a law and the first in New Jersey.

The ordinance will allow all private sector workers to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 5 days per year. Workers in establishments with 10 or more employees, including franchises, will receive job protected, paid sick time; workers in establishment with fewer than 10 employees will receive job-protected sick time.

More than 30,000 private sector Jersey City workers, previously unprotected, will now able to take sick days without the fear job loss. Having access to earned sick days also means that workers will be 28% less likely than those without to get injured on the job.

Guaranteed earned sick days would help parents balance work and family obligations and properly care for their children when ill. They would also help reduce the spread of pandemic and seasonal flu, reduce emergency room usage, protect the public from diseases carried by sick workers and prevent workplace accidents from occurring. It’s just common sense, sick workers are not at their most productive and fully functioning; the best place for them to be is at home, taking care of their health.

By passing this bill into law, Jersey City Council joins lawmakers around the country that are supporting earned sick days as a policy that strengthens the economy by keeping people in their jobs. Portland and New York City passed earned sick days legislation earlier this year. Washington D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and Connecticut have all successfully implemented paid sick day policies. Studies done in both San Francisco and Seattle have shown that paid sick days standards had none of the negative impacts frequently predicted by the business lobby. In fact, small business owners in both cities have actually reported positive job growth with easier implementation than anticipated.

The New Jersey Time to Care Coalition- a broad-based group of community, advocacy, union, and research organizations working on policies that strengthen communities by ensuring that working families can balance their responsibilities at home and on a job- will continue to raise awareness of the need for an earned sick days policy in all communities and with our state lawmakers.