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Ensuring Paid Sick Time for All Workers

A Meaningful Improvement to Quality of Life for All Workers

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has been on the front lines of the national movement to guarantee paid sick days to workers. On September 25, 2013, the campaign scored a major victory when the Jersey City Council adopted an ordinance that guarantees sick leave to all workers in Jersey City, including approximately 30,000 people who don’t currently have it. The ordinance makes Jersey City the first city in New Jersey and the sixth city in the nation to pass this commonsense policy that makes families more secure, boosts the economy, and protects the public health.

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The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has been on the front lines of the national movement to guarantee paid sick days to workers. On September 25, 2013, the campaign scored a major victory when the Jersey City Council adopted an ordinance that guarantees sick leave to all workers in Jersey City, including approximately 30,000 people who don’t currently have it. The ordinance makes Jersey City the first city in New Jersey and the sixth city in the nation to pass this commonsense policy that makes families more secure, boosts the economy, and protects the public health.

The Jersey City ordinance will guarantee workers at firms with more than 10 employees the right to take up to five days of paid time off per year. Workers at smaller firms will have the right to take unpaid time off without fear of losing their jobs.

CPD provided legal support to the coalition that drove the legislative campaign in Jersey City, which was led by SEIU 32BJ, the Working Families Party, NJ Citizen Action, A Better Balance, and members of the NJ Time to Care Coalition. CPD helped draft the ordinance and negotiate its final wording. The Paid Sick Days ordinance in Jersey City comes on the heels of the New York City Council overriding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto to enact the Earned Sick Time Act.

The legislation, passed with what the New York Times called “a raw display of political muscle” by a broad coalition of labor, community, and advocacy organizations, gives 3.4 million private sector workers in New York City the legal right to take 5 sick days every year to care for themselves or their ailing family members. Of these workers, 1.4 million were not previously entitled to any sick time on the job – and for them this law will represent a meaningful improvement in their quality of life.

CPD staff played a central role in the victory, helping to negotiate the compromise that ensured sufficient political support for passage and then working with City Council attorneys to draft the final bill. As part of a broad and robust political coalition, CPD helped mobilize pressure on the City Council, designed key elements of the legislation to ensure that workers will actually be able to exercise their right to sick time off without fear of retaliation, and helped advance a procedural strategy to move the bill from committee and bring it to the floor for a vote. The next target for earned sick days legislation is Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. A super-majority of the City Council has expressed support for legislation there, and we expect passage of a bill this winter.

News

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facts & figures

Paid sick time should be a basic employment right but in the United States, it is not.

  • 163 countries around the world guarantee paid sick leave, but not the United States.
  • Nationally, nearly forty percent of private sector workers lack paid sick time. Others cannot take time off from work to care for sick children, forcing them to decide between sending a sick child to school or losing critical wages (or even a job).
  • Low-income workers are significantly less likely to have paid sick time than other members of the workforce. Nationally,...

Paid sick time should be a basic employment right but in the United States, it is not.

  • 163 countries around the world guarantee paid sick leave, but not the United States.
  • Nationally, nearly forty percent of private sector workers lack paid sick time. Others cannot take time off from work to care for sick children, forcing them to decide between sending a sick child to school or losing critical wages (or even a job).
  • Low-income workers are significantly less likely to have paid sick time than other members of the workforce. Nationally, 80 percent of the lowest-income workers have no access to paid sick time.
  • In this difficult economy it is essential that families have job security. Workers should not have to worry about losing their jobs because they are sick.

It is critical that workers have paid sick leave to care for family members.

  • Paid sick time allows parents to provide personal care for their sick children. Parental care makes children’s recoveries faster and can prevent future health problems.
  • When parents don’t have paid sick time, they are more than twice as likely as parents with paid sick time to send a sick child to school or daycare, spreading illness, and five times as likely to report taking their child or a family member to the emergency room because they were unable to take time off work during normal work hours. Emergency room visits increase healthcare costs on taxpayers.

Lack of paid sick leave is a public health issue.

  • Paid sick time will reducerecovery time and decrease the likelihood of spreading illness to other members of the workforce and to the public. During the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, researchers estimate that 5 million cases of the flu would have been prevented if a federal law providing paid sick time had been in place.
  • Paid sick time will also reduce health care expenditures. Nationally, providing all workers with paid sick time would reduce visits to hospital emergency departments and save $1 billion per year in medical costs, including more than $500 million in savings to publicly funded health insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.
  • As baby boomers age, more and more elderly individuals will need support from family caregivers to lead healthy, independent lives. Paid sick time allows employees to take off work in order to care for an elderly family member, including taking the individual to a doctor’s appointment or providing care during a health emergency.

Paid sick leave is good for business.

  • Providing paid sick time is good for a company’s bottom line. Researchers estimate that the total cost of “presenteeism,” where employees go to work sick and are less productive, is more than $150 billion per year. Sick workers also spread disease to their co-workers.
  • Paid sick time results in reduced voluntary and involuntary turnover. It costs an employer 150% of a salaried employee’s yearly salary to replace him or her. For an hourly employee, turnover costs the employer anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the employee’s annual pay.
  • Since enacting a paid sick time law in 2007, San Francisco has performed better than surrounding counties in terms of total employment, disproving critics’ predictions.
  • Ensuring that all employers provide paid sick time levels the playing field for employers who already provide this benefit.

There is overwhelming public support for requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.

  • In a recent survey, 86% of Americans favored a law calling for up to 7 paid sick days per year for all workers. Additionally, 47% of Americans indicated that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate backing paid sick time, while only 14% said it would make them less likely to vote for the candidate.
  • Polls repeatedly show that paid sick time draws support across party lines. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in Connecticut all favored the new paid sick time law in the state. New Yorkers across the political spectrum also favor a New York City paid sick time law.

Data taken from A Better Balance Paid Sick Time Fact Sheet

 

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