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Jersey City Mayor Signs Sick-Leave Legislation

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio — Monday, October 21, 2013

By Townsquare News Network

Joining a movement that is gaining traction nationwide, Jersey City is now the first city in the state to require businesses to give employees sick time.

The legislation goes into effect Jan. 24. It requires that all businesses with 10 or more employees allow workers to earn up to five paid sick days each year.

Businesses with 9 or fewer employees must allow workers to accrue up to 5 unpaid days. The law only covers private employers.

Jersey City now joins Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut in offering mandatory sick leave. The New York City Council passed a law over the veto of Mayor Michael Bloomberg requiring employers with more than 20 workers to offer sick leave next year.

The law in Jersey City, a city of 250,000 across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is one of the nation's most generous. Workers accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. A new employee will immediately start accruing sick time, but must wait until he or she has worked at least 90 days to use the time.

Mayor Steven Fulop said the law will help low-income and working families. While Jersey City has seen an influx of corporations and has become known as Wall Street West, 20 percent of Jersey City families make less than $25,000 a year, according to Census data.

"It really protects tens of thousands of working families who struggle every day to put food on the table," Fulop said at a bill signing ceremony at a Jersey City pizza parlor.

Fulop estimates that 30,000 workers in Jersey City will be affected.

Jersey City is the state's second-largest city. Advocates are working to pass a similar law in Newark, the state's largest, and want to make mandatory sick leave a state law.

"This is the best earned sick day bill in the country," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, a citizen watchdog coalition. "It's good for Jersey City, it's good for the people in Jersey City, it's good for the workers in Jersey City and it's good for the economy."

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