Paterson Press

Paterson Pushes Ahead On Sick Time Requirement For Private Sector Employees

Paterson Press ( — Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Paterson Press

PATERSON — Following the lead of the state's two largest cities, Paterson seems on its way to adopting an ordinance that would require all employers within the Silk City to provide their workers with sick time.

More than 4,000 Patersonians signed petitions supporting the initiative, according to New Jersey Working Families, a nonprofit group that's part of a coalition of organizations pushing for sick time laws around the state.

On Tuesday night, five of the nine City Council members asked to be listed as co-sponsors of the ordinance that would impose the sick time requirement on all employers doing business within Paterson. The exceptions would be government entities and employers that have union contracts in place with their workers.

Under the proposal, employees would be allowed to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours they work. The workers would be allowed to carry sick days from one year to the next, but they would not be able to cash in unused sick days, according to proponents of the initiative.

Analilia Mejia, the director of New Jersey Working Families, told the city council during a discussion at Tuesday night's meeting that the sick time requirement benefits society in general and not just the employees protected by it.

Too often, Mejia said, low-paid employees in the food industry continue to come to work when they are ill — and expose customers to illnesses — because they do not get sick days and cannot afford to lose pay. Last year, Mejia said, a mumps outbreak down the Jersey Shore was caused by illness spread by a restaurant worker.

Other groups pushing for the initiative are New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, New Jersey Communities United and some prominent labor unions.

Newark and Jersey City adopted the sick day requirement earlier this year. The city of Passaic also is weighing such a measure. A bill that would impose the requirement statewide is being considered in the state legislature.

The Paterson council has scheduled a public hearing and final vote on the proposal for its September 9 meeting.

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