Sick-Leave Law Comes to NJ

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -

Joining a movement that is gaining traction nationwide, Jersey City is now the first city in the state to require businesses to give employees sick time.

The legislation, which goes into effect Jan. 24, requires that all businesses with 10 or more employees allow workers to earn up to five paid sick days each year. Businesses with nine or fewer employees must allow workers to accrue up to five unpaid days. The law only covers private employers.

Jersey City now joins Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; New York; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Connecticut in offering mandatory sick leave. But the law in Jersey City, a city of 250,000 across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is one of the nation’s most generous. Workers accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. A new employee will immediately start accruing sick time, but must wait until he or she has worked at least 90 days to use the time.

“This is the best earned sick day bill in the country,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, a citizen watchdog coalition.

On Tuesday, another northern New Jersey city announced they may mandate paid sick time. Newark officials will introduce legislation allowing workers to earn three to five sick days per year and allow full and part-time workers in businesses with ten or more employees to earn up to five sick days, while those in firms with less than nine employees could earn up to three sick days. Like the Jersey City law, employees would earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.