The Jersey City council voted on Wednesday night to mandate that businesses provide paid sick leave for their employees, making it the sixth city in the country to pass such a requirement. Democratic mayor Steven Fulop has been a big proponent of paid sick leave, and is expected to sign the bill.
The effort, which was approved by a 7–1 majority, will require businesses with 10 or more employees to provide up to five days of paid sick leave a year. Workers will be able to earn a day off for each 30 days worked.
Jersey City is the second-largest city in the state of New Jersey, and over 30,000 workers who currently have no paid sick leave are expected to benefit from this law.
The victory in Jersey City is part of a nationwide push for more worker-friendly sick leave policies. The other cities that currently require paid sick leave are New York, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Only the state of Connecticut has a state-wide paid sick leave law, though advocates in the state of New Jersey are hoping to get the State Assembly there to pass a law like Jersey City’s. Similar pushes are happening in Tacoma, WA, andthe state of Massachusetts.
Paid sick leave is valuable both to workers and to employers. Providing the benefit is good for employee retention, and giving people time off when they’re sick prevents the spread of germs that ultimately reduce worker productivity overall. Having workers come in sick costs businesses an average of $225 a year. The policy is also a huge boon to women, particularly single mothers, who need to take time off to care for a sick child but can’t afford to lose the pay. Forty percent of private sector workers — and a whopping 80 percent of low-income workers — currently have no paid sick leave.