The Times, Trenton

Trenton City Council Will Vote On Proposal To Require Businesses To Offer Paid Sick Days To Employees

The Times of Trenton — Monday, August 25, 2014

By Jenna Pizzi / Times of Trenton

TRENTON — Trenton city council will convene for a special meeting Tuesday night to vote on an ordinance that would require all private-sector employers to provide paid sick days to workers.

If the council votes in favor of the measure, the bill will move on to a public hearing and a vote for adoption by the board. If it fails on Tuesday, the question will go to Trenton voters in the November election.

Earlier this month Mayor Eric Jackson accepted more than 2,200 petitions from city residents collected by a group of canvassers led by NJ Working Families Alliance who are trying to make the paid sick days a requirement across the state. Other organizations involved in the coalition include New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Time to Care Coalition and New Jersey Communities United.

Jackson said he supported the policy and would move the measure forward accordingly.

The MidJersey Chamber of Commerce has come out against the measure and executive director Robert Prunetti has previously said any such ordinance is an intrusion into the private sector on an issue that should be negotiated between employers and employees. Prunetti also warned that such a measure would force businesses to leave Trenton when the city is looking to redevelop and grow.

Acting city Law Director David Minchello said the ordinance will be presented to city council as it was drafted by the group that petitioned the city.

As it is drafted, the paid sick time employees accrue could be used to care for themselves, a child, a parent, a grandparent or spouse of a grandparent, a grandchild, a spouse or a sibling.

Enforcement of the ordinance would be organized under the city's department of Health and Human Services, but the ordinance does not specifically state how the department will enforce or ensure compliance with the requirement if it is passed.

Minchello said if the measure is successful it would be up to the administration to determine how to enforce it. He said it has not been determined if that would mean hiring additional personnel or incurring additional expense.

The proposed ordinance is modeled after one adopted in Newark and Jersey City and allows full- and part- time employees paid sick days to care for themselves or immediate family members.

A similar, statewide bill (S758), sponsored by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), was introduced in January and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) said he would begin advancing a bill in September.

In East Orange, the city council is set to vote on final approval of the ordinance next month and Passaic's city council voted to introduce an ordinance for the paid sick days this month.

As proposed, the ordinances would allow workers to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. In businesses with 10 or more employees, five paid sick days can be earned per year. For those with fewer than 10 employees, workers would be eligible to earn three paid sick days each year. The ordinance would not change anything for employers that offer better benefits packages or for employees operating under collective bargaining agreements.

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