NJBIZ

Elizabeth Joins Municipal Paid Sick Leave Movement

This year's proposal may include rule pre-empting local government action

NJBIZ — Thursday, November 5, 2015

BY ANDREW GEORGE

Earlier this week, Elizabeth became New Jersey's 10th municipality to pass a paid sick leave initiative after voters approved a ballot-box question.

The new ordinance will largely mirror those that have come before it in other New Jersey municipalities, allowing private-sector workers the ability to accrue up to an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a 40-hour-per-year cap for workers at businesses with 10 or more employees. A 24-hour-per-year cap would be in place for workers at businesses with nine or fewer employees.

Those working "directly in contact with the public," such as in fields pertaining to food service or daycare, would be able to accrue up to 40 hours per year regardless of the size of their employer.

"Congratulations to Elizabeth residents for taking a stand for workers and families," said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU state director and union vice president. "The passage of this earned sick days referendum means that workers in Elizabeth will no longer have to fear they could lose pay or even their job if they need to stay home to recuperate from an illness or take care of a sick loved one. And it will finally level the playing field at Newark Liberty International Airport where most workers in Terminal A, on the Elizabeth side, haven't had the option to take a paid sick day, unlike their counterparts on the Newark side of the airport."

The vote also has paid sick leave advocates hoping that momentum will carry over to Trenton, where pressure to revive a stalled statewide bill is mounting.

"Tonight is a tremendous victory for over 25,000 Elizabeth workers who will never again have to choose between their livelihood and their family's health," said New Jersey Working Families executive director Analilia Mejia earlier this week. "This vote is also a clear call to action for elected leaders in Trenton. New Jersey voters believe that paid sick days should be a basic workplace right, and we won't stop until Trenton enacts a statewide bill that covers every worker in the state."

"Nearly everyone in New Jersey supports paid sick days, because paid sick days support everyone," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action and a New Jersey Time to Care Coalition spokesperson. "Paid sick days strengthen families, protect the economy and deliver tangible benefits for business. This is a common sense policy whose time has come in New Jersey, and we call on the New Jersey Legislature to pass a strong paid sick days bill without delay."

In 2013, Jersey City was the first municipality in New Jersey to pass a paid sick leave ordinance.

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