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A year later, Jersey City says paid sick leave legislation a success

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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop supports the city's paid sick-leave ordinance.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop supports the city's paid sick-leave ordinance. - ()

Pointing to a study tasked with assessing the law's impact on the city's economy in its first year, Jersey City says its paid sick leave ordinance has largely been a success for the city's employers and workers.

Findings from the study, conducted by the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, were released on Wednesday and showed that some 80 percent of companies in Jersey City are currently in compliance with the law.

According to the study, 42 percent of employers who altered their sick leave policies in the wake of the law’s enactment claimed that business was better and some reported increases in productivity, employee turnover reduction and an overall higher quality of new employee hires.

“Our earned sick leave legislation has done exactly what we wanted it to do, which is create a safety net for working families so they can care for themselves or loved ones who are sick, while also improving the work environment,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. “Not only has this legislation not hurt businesses, the exact opposite has been the case with employers reporting less turnover, more productive employees and a healthier and happier workforce.”

Some 84 percent of workers reported that they felt supported by their employers and another 71 percent added that they were more satisfied with their jobs, according to the study. Most workers on average reported taking three or fewer days during the year, the study also found.

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“Our research shows that providing earned sick days to employees in Jersey City came with a range of benefits to both employers and employees,” said CAWP director and study co-author Dana Britton. “Contrary to concerns that employees would abuse the policy, we found no evidence of that. Almost 30 percent of employees who earned time took no sick days at all, and two-thirds reported using three or fewer days during the year. In fact, most employers, 92.4 percent, said there was no change in their employees’ use of sick days, and only 3.4 percent of employers indicated their workers were taking more sick days.”

Jersey City was the first municipality in the state to enact such an ordinance, passing legislation in September 2013. The law went into effect in January 2014. The aforementioned study was included as part of the ordinance.

Much to the dismay of statewide business groups, the move has since launched a statewide push for similar legislation and a handful of other municipalities, including Newark, East Orange and Paterson, have each enacted their own ordinances at the municipal level.

“This report strongly affirms that allowing people to earn sick days to care for themselves and their families is good for our public health, our businesses, our economy and our families,” said Analilia Mejia, New Jersey Working Families Alliance executive director. “This rings true not only for Jersey City but also the eight additional municipalities that have adopted similar measures. It’s time for the state to catch up and pass a paid sick leave bill because all New Jerseyans deserve this right.”


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