Of all the local ordinances providing for paid sick leave in the nation almost half are in New Jersey. Jersey City’s earned sick time ordinance was the first of its kind in New Jersey. Now it’s about to vote on legislation that would extend paid sick leave to almost every private sector worker in Jersey City. A recent Rutgers study of the program shows that big employers have bought in. Businesses so small they’re not required to offer paid sick leave do it anyway because they say they can get better workers, more productivity and less turnover. Joining us is Dena Mottola Jaborska of NJ Citizens United.
Extending the current paid sick law would include more workers in Jersey City. Previously under the ordinance that was passed by Jersey City the people that worked for companies of nine or less employees only had unpaid days off. “With the change that the city council’s ready to vote on tomorrow is to give those people and those smaller companies access to paid time off, up to three days of paid sick days, to use for each year,” Jaborska said.
Nine other towns in New Jersey have passed the ordinance and have paid sick leave laws. She says there’s still 1.2 million people in New Jersey who have no paid sick days. There’s been a statewide push for paid sick leave, however legislation has stalled in the state legislature. Jaborska says she expects it to move forward soon. “We do have a lot of momentum at the local level, and we are expecting more towns in the next year or two to move forward. Then we’re looking forward to seeing the state legislation move forward, also within the next year. So I wouldn’t say it’s stuck, but it’s definitely taken time, and I think that it makes sense. In the meantime 150,000 workers have been able to access those rights through the passage of the law in those nine towns,” she said.
Some business groups say paid sick leave would hurt businesses bottom lines and incentivize workers to take more days off. Jaborska says there’s evidence to support the opposite. “The businesses that were surveyed by the Rutgers study found that more companies are showing positive benefits and the majority, nearly all, are showing either a neutral or positive benefit to the workplace,” she said. “So, there’s been no evidence in the local studies, or around the country, that these have been a negative for businesses. It polls quite high if you survey small businesses around the country. There was just a survey that came out this week by the Main Street Alliance and it polls quite high; about 65 percent of the small businesses who were surveyed said they were supportive of the sick day ordinances in their local areas.”