On Monday morning, Jersey City, NJ Mayor Steven Fulop signed the city’s paid sick days bill into law, which had been passed by the city council in September. The bill is now the seventh to become law in the country, joining New York City; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC as well as the state of Connecticut.
Employers in the city with 10 or more workers will now have to provide them with up to five days of paid sick leave a year, with workers earning a day off for each 30 days worked. Workers at smaller businesses will have the right to earn unpaid sick days. Over 30,000 workers who previously had no access to paid sick leave are expected to benefit.
The push for paid sick days legislation at the state and city level is growing. State-wide efforts are underway in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont. Newark, NJ and Tacoma, WA are also fighting for such bills, and an effort is underway in Washington, DC to expand the city’s current policy to tipped workers.
The evidence from those places that already have laws on the books shows that they are good for business and the economy. Job growth has been stronger under Seattle’s law and business growth is also strong. San Francisco’s law has strong business support and spurred job growth. Washington DC’s had no negative impact on business, while Connecticut’s has come with little cost and big potential upsides. Meanwhile, lost productivity due to sick workers without access to paid leave costs the average employer $225 a year for each employee.
Yet 40 percent of the country’s private sector workers, including 80 percent of low-income workers, don’t have access to paid sick days. And while momentum builds for these laws, so too does the push for so-called preemption laws that block cities and local communities from enacting them.