Today, the Newark City Council built on the strong momentum we have seen around paid sick days already in 2014 by passing a paid sick days standard for New Jersey’s largest city. This is great news, and we urge Mayor Quintana to sign the ordinance right away.
Since January 1, a paid sick days law in Portland, Ore., has taken effect and a bill to expand D.C.’s paid sick days law to cover more workers was signed into law. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to expand that city’s paid sick days law, which is set to take effect in April. And on Friday, a paid sick days law took effect in Jersey City, New Jersey. This is shaping up to be another year of progress on paid sick days.
Despite recent victories, approximately two in five workers in the United States still cannot earn paid sick days. Among them are some 38,000 people in Newark who cannot earn a single paid sick day. They are forced to choose between their own or their families’ health and their economic security when illness strikes or caregiving needs arise. And the health and well-being of the public, local businesses and the local economy suffer as a result.
The comprehensive ordinance passed today would change that by ensuring that all workers can earn the paid sick time they need. People who work in small businesses with 10 or more employees and those who work in food service, child care and direct care would be able to earn up to five paid sick days a year. People who work in smaller businesses would be able to earn up to three paid sick days a year.
This progress in Newark adds to the great momentum around paid sick days that workers and advocates have generated across the country and in New Jersey. But even with the advance in Jersey City and progress in Newark, one million people in that state still cannot earn paid sick days. New Jersey needs a statewide standard.
If Mayor Quintana signs this ordinance, Newark will become the eighth jurisdiction in the nation to guarantee workers this basic right. And we will have even more momentum for the federal standard the country urgently needs.