Workers, Small Business Owners, and Advocates Celebrate the Passage of Earned Sick and Safe Days
Legislation for New Jersey
Trenton – Today the New Jersey Senate votes on Earned Sick and Safe Days legislation (S2171/ A1827) and is poised to pass the bill, just as the Assembly did on March 26, 2018. The New Jersey Time to Care Coalition applauds the Senate’s action to move this important pro-worker and pro-family policy to the Governor’s desk. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law and once enacted, New Jersey will become the 10th state to guarantee workers job and economic security when they or their family members fall ill.
“Access to earned sick days is an essential benefit that the working people of New Jersey desperately need and deserve, but one that so many in our state currently do not have,” said Assemblywoman Lampitt. “It is time we establish a strong statewide earned sick leave policy to ensure that employees who need a sick day can take one and to demonstrate our commitment to the working men and women of our state. I look forward to Governor Murphy signing this important piece of legislation into law.”
The Earned Sick and Safe Days legislation will allow New Jersey workers to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours (5 days) in a calendar year. Workers can take the time recovery from illness or seek preventative medical care as well as provide care for family.
“It’s inhumane to deny workers the right to earn paid time off for illness. The NJ Earned Sick and Safe Days Act will ensure nearly every worker in New Jersey has that right. Workers in New Jersey will no longer have to choose between a paycheck and their health, nor will they need to leave a sick family member’s bedside to secure their job. We are thrilled that the Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and our legislative leaders have championed a pro-worker and more family friendly New Jersey, said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Associate Director at New Jersey Citizen Action and Co-Convener of the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition.
The nearly 1.2 million New Jersey workers who do not currently earn a single paid sick day, will no longer be forced to make difficult decisions between their health and their pocketbook. Lower income workers, often employed in retail, food service, child care and the hotel industry, are the mostly likely to lack earned sick days and will benefit from this critical legal and economic protection.
“After years of advocacy and a firm commitment from workers, employers and legislators alike, New Jersey workers will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief when the inevitable sickness strikes. Earned sick day policies are the right medicine for workers and their families, preventing economic turmoil and securing stability for the most vulnerable workers amongst us. We laud supporting legislators for their actions today,” said Analilia Mejia Director New Jersey Working Families Alliance.
The Earned Sick Days law will also assist family caregivers who often face insurmountable challenges to manage both their caregiving responsibilities and the jobs they need – and research shows that only about half of all family caregivers in the U.S. who have paying jobs can earn paid sick days to care for their own health needs or those of their loved ones.
“AARP applauds today’s legislative passage of state-wide earned paid sick day legislation. Earned sick days will help to ensure family caregivers do not have to risk losing a paycheck of even their job in order to provide care for a loved one,” said Crystal McDonald, Associate State Director of Advocacy or AARP New Jersey. “This will help make it easier to keep loved ones at home, where they want to be, and provides common sense work place flexibility for the 1.1 million family caregivers who are the backbone of our State’s long term care system.”
“When we get sick, we need paid time off. It’s a matter of respecting our health. We need this law so we do not have to choose between getting paid or getting better. The bill does a great thing by covering temp and part time worker too, because we all get sick, regardless of the hours we work. We are excited that the Earned Sick Days law will finally give us some peace of mind!” said Reynalda Cruz of New Labor, a worker organization.
With guaranteed paid sick time, workers are able to stay home to take time to recover and the spread of illness slows. Workplaces are both healthier and more productive. Workers also recover faster and can access medical care – allowing them to get back to work sooner and lowering health care costs.
Earned sick days help to protect the public health, without them, workers are more likely to go to work sick, putting the health of their co-workers and public at risk while dragging down business productivity,” said Primary Care Physician & Assistant Professor at School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM), Dr. Magdala Chery, DO MBS. “Not having earned sick days is associated with an 18 percentage point increase in ill employees spreading diseases at work.”
“Having a guarantee of paid sick days and protection from retaliatory action or discrimination is so important to me. I have chronic bronchitis and I work at Walmart. Without this law, Walmart can hold my sick days against me, even to the point of termination,” said Donna Fotiadis, a Walmart worker and member of OUR Walmart.
Earned sick days have been proven to be good for businesses and their bottom lines, and many businesses that understand what the research proves, have embraced the policy.
“Research on existing paid sick days laws show that they make business and economic sense,” said Yarrow Willman-Cole, Assistant Director of Policy Analysis and Community Engagement at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. “Our report, Earned Sick Days in Jersey City: A Study of Employers and Employees at Year One, found that businesses providing earned sick days experienced significant benefits, including a reduction in the number of sick employees coming to work, an increase in productivity, an improvement in the quality of new hires and a reduction in employee turnover.”
“Providing earned sick days to my workers benefits my business in countless ways, and now with the passage of this bill, the playing field will be leveled between large companies that do not offer paid sick days, and small businesses like mine that already do the right — and smart thing — by offering the paid time off to recover from illness,” said Tony Sandkamp, owners of the custom woodworking business Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City.
The Earned Sick and Safe Days legislation also allows workers to use the time to deal with issues related to domestic violence or sexual assault. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence will be able to better access critical services without risking their financial security.
“Earned Sick and Safe days are key for survivors of domestic violence who need economic safety and stability to safely leave an abusive relationship. This bill includes this crucial component by guaranteeing that the paid time off can be used to deal with issues arising out of domestic violence,” said Nicole Morella, Director of Public Policy and Communications at the NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
“The lifelong impact of the trauma experienced by survivors of sexual assault can be mitigated by providing timely access to supportive services. Giving sexual assault survivors paid time to care for themselves is critical and necessary,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Passage of Earned Sick Days will also make it possible for workers in New Jersey to be both good employees and good parents. Research shows that when parents are able to care for sick children at home, they get better sooner and reduce the risk of spreading the illness to theirclassmates.
“As an organization that serves families of children and families at greatest risk due to poverty, disability and special healthcare needs, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigrant or language status, or other special circumstances, the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network is thrilled to see NJ Earned Sick and Safe Days pass. No one should have to choose between caring for a sick child and a paycheck, or go into work ill. This will help keep NJ families healthier and more financially stable,” said Diana Autin, Co-Executive Director of SPAN, the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network.
“As the parent of a medically complex child and advocate for other families, I’m so happy the NJ Earned Sick Days has passed”, said Lauren Agoratus-Parent, State Coordinator of Family Voices NJ, “My daughter has multiple life-threatening conditions and is immunocompromised. Not only do we not want anyone who is sick to help us care for her, but when her healthcare workers are ill and have to take time off because they can’t work with her, they should be paid.”
The New Jersey Time to Care Coalition is a broad-based group of community, advocacy, union, religious, research, and academic organizations working to support policies that strengthen communities by ensuring that working families can balance their responsibilities at home and on the job.