Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Approves Sick Time

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Approves Sick Time

Article excerpt

PASSAIC - Responding to pressure from a grass-roots coalition, the city became the third in New Jersey to adopt an ordinance requiring all businesses to offer paid sick leave to employees.

Over the objections of some business leaders, the City Council approved the measure 7-0. The law takes effect in January.

Passaic joined Jersey City and Newark in requiring its businesses to offer the benefit.

An identical ordinance is expected to be voted on next week by the Paterson City Council.

"Thanks to the courage and vision of Mayor [Alex] Blanco and the Passaic Council, this city will be a fairer place to live and work, while the campaign to bring earned sick days statewide gets another shot in the arm," declared Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families, a coalition of labor and progressive groups that sponsored the ordinance.

The primary goal of the ordinance is to help low-wage workers, many of them clustered in food service retail and home health care jobs, to gain paid sick days, both as an issue of fairness and as way to keep communicable illnesses from spreading.

The coalition wants the state Legislature to pass a bill making paid sick leave mandatory. Until then, the coalition's strategy is to have ordinances adopted at the municipal level.

"Passaic's working families no longer have to fear that a bout of the flu or a sick child will spell job loss or mounting debt," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action and spokeswoman for NJ Time to Care Coalition, which is leading the statewide initiative. "Even better, giving workers and families this basic economic security will help keep Passaic's economy, families and communities healthy."

The ordinance applies to all companies in Passaic, from the supermarket that employs hundreds to the bodega on the corner. Full- time and part-time workers are eligible for the benefit.

Under the ordinance, an employee accrues one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked during a calendar year. Companies with fewer than 10 employees would be allowed to cap sick time at 24 hours per employee, which works out to three full days. …

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