As the flu season creeps closer, Newark residents can rest assured this year that they are one step closer to not having to choose between their health or their paycheck. Last week, Newark’s City Council voted to unanimously to introduce a paid sick days ordinance. If the pending vote is successful, New Jersey’s largest city will become the seventh city nationally to pass paid sick day legislation.
The new law will provide protection for up to 38,000 workers who currently do not have the security of paid sick days. For many council members, the fight is personal.
“I watched my parents go to work sick because there was no such thing as paid sick leave and they had four children who needed to eat,” Councilwoman Mildred Crump said. “Shame on anyone who says this is not a good idea. Shame on them. They need to walk a mile in our shoes.”
Like many other ordinances around the country, there are different requirements for businesses depending on their size. Employees can earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours per year for businesses with 10 or more employees and up to 24 hours a year for smaller businesses.
The Newark ordinance differs from other laws by specifying workers who have “direct contact with the public”, such as waiters and retail clerks, are guaranteed up to five earned sick days a year, regardless of the size of their employer.
Advocates expect a successful vote and signature by the mayor as soon as early December.