Eight of Newark’s city council members released a statement in support of a potential paid sick days bill recently and say they will likely introduce it on October 2, with a final vote on the 17th. The proposal thus far is to require employers to give workers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 worked, accumulating up to five sick days. Lawmakers haven’t yet outlined any exceptions to the potential law.
The organizations and advocates pushing for the law say that 38,000 workers in the city lack access to paid sick days to care for themselves or family members who fall ill. In the state as a whole, 1.2 million workers don’t get paid time off for illness from their employers. Forty percent of U.S. workers don’t have paid sick days, and low-income workers are disproportionately impacted, as 80 percent lack access to paid time off for illness.
Over 30,000 workers are expected to benefit from Jersey City’s new paid sick days law. Other efforts to pass such laws are underway in the entire state of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Tacoma, WA, while Washington, DC is considering an expansion of its existing law.
Six cities — New York City; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; Portland, OR; and now Jersey City — and the state of Connecticut already have these laws. Evidence from their experiences points to a positive economic impact and little harm to businesses. Job growth has actually been stronger under Seattle’s law and business growth also remains strong. Washington, DC’s has had no negative impact on business, nor has Connecticut’s, which has big potential upsides. San Francisco’s has spurred job growth while leaving little negative impact and enjoying strong business support.
Yet as paid sick days legislation spreads so does the effort to undermine these laws. So-called preemption bills, which block cities and local communities from passing paid sick days legislation, have cropped up in at least 14 different state legislatures and have been passed in nine: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.