A new study released today by Rutgers University's Center for Women and Work shows that 83 percent of state residents of all political affiliations support paid sick-leave policies.
The report is the result of a public opinion telephone poll conducted last month by the university's Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. A total of 925 New Jersey residents were surveyed.
"Not only do most New Jerseyans — over 83 percent — support paid sick days policies, but one of our most striking findings is that this support spans all economic and racial groups, both genders and even political affiliations," CWW research director and assistant professor Danielle Lindemann said in the report.
The study comes on the heels of a busy few weeks in New Jersey for paid sick-day policies. Earlier this month, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop put his signature on the city's mandatory paid sick-leave ordinance, the first of its kind in the state. On Tuesday night, the Newark City Council introduced a version of its own.
Eyes are currently on Trenton to see when the Legislature will take up a similar statewide bill introduced last spring by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees).
Several cities across the country including Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have all adopted similar ordinances.
Today's report also concludes that 37 percent of state residents lack access to paid sick time altogether. That figure is particularly pertinent for workers of Hispanic or Latino backgrounds as well as young employees and those who work part-time or earn under $50,000 per year, the study said.
"Over 37 percent of New Jersey residents work in jobs with no paid sick days," CWW affiliate fellow and Widener University assistant professor Linda Houser said in the report. "This proportion is significantly higher for some of New Jersey's most vulnerable citizens — low-income earners, part-time workers and young adults."
Among those polled, 38 percent said they could not financially afford to take time off, 28 percent noted that they feared a bad performance review if they did, and 24 percent reported that they were afraid of losing their jobs if time off was taken.
"Our findings show that New Jersey's low-wage workers, the majority of whom are women, are those least likely to have access to paid sick days," Rutgers' Working Families Program director Karen White said. "Yet they are the ones who most need this workplace standard so that they don't have to choose between losing a day's wages and caring for a sick child (or) themselves."
Statewide business groups have repeatedly stated their opposition to mandatory paid sick-leave measures. They say doing so would force employers to give fewer raises and bonuses and may ultimately lead to layoffs.