NJ's Domino Effect: Paterson Becomes Fifth City With Mandated Earned Sick Days

Last night, Paterson City Council voted in an earned sick days ordinance, becoming the third NJ city just this week to pass the identical ordinance and the fifth city overall.

The municipal ordinances passed in Paterson, East Orange and Passaic and pending in other municipalities are closely modeled on the Newark ordinance enacted this summer. They allow private-sector workers to earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Those that work in businesses with 10 or more employees can earn 5 paid sick days per year; workers in businesses with nine or fewer employees would be eligible to earn 3 paid sick days per year. In addition, employees directly in contact with the public, such as food service and daycare workers would be eligible to earn 5 sick days regardless of company size.

The days can be used to care for themselves or for sick children, siblings, parents, grandparents or grandchildren.

Paterson is New Jersey's 3rd largest city. The Rutgers Center for Women and Work estimates that 23,000 Paterson residents will now be able to earn paid sick days thanks to the local law.

The city is 53% Latino, a population that disproportionately lacks access to paid sick days. Only 45% of Latino workers have paid sick days, compared to 60% of the general public.  

If it seems like you're suddenly reading a lot about earned sick days, you're right. Passaic and East Orange passed the same ordinance within the last week. It's part of a coordinated campaign led by NJ Working Families building on momentum begun in Jersey City and Newark, as well as in NYC. Analilia Mejia, of NJ Working Families:

"In Paterson and around the state, the people who tend to lack paid sick days are precisely the people who need them most. They are often women and people of color supporting families that live on the edge. Thanks to the courage of local elected officials, these working families are now getting the basic economic security they need."

Partners in the earned sick days municipal campaign also include NJ Citizen Action, the NJ Time to Care Coalition, NJ Communities United, BlueWave NJ, SEIU 32BJ, and CWA District 1.

In April, the NJTime to Care Coalition launched a campaign to pass a statewide earned sick days bill that would cover all of the 1.2 million New Jerseyans who can't currently earn sick days. The effort to pass local earned sick days laws has built significant momentum for the law. Just one day after the New Jersey municipal effort launched, Speaker Vincent Prieto announced that the bill would go forward as early as September.  

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