Lawmakers & Advocates: Earned Sick Leave is a Win-Win for New Jersey

Contact: Jon Whiten, NJPP: 609-393-1145 ext. 15 (office) |

Lawmakers & Advocates: Earned Sick Leave is a Win-Win for New Jersey

Workers Would Gain Economic Security, While Modest Cost to Businesses Would Be Outweighed by Likely Savings, According to New Report

New Jersey would have a stronger economy and healthier people if every working man and woman could take days off when they are sick without forfeiting their pay or, sometimes, their jobs. Today, though, over 1 million New Jerseyans – most of whom work in low-wage jobs – don’t get paid when they have to take off for being sick.

While it’s clear that these workers would benefit from a statewide earned sick days policy, New Jersey business owners would also benefit and save money, thanks to a more productive workforce and lower employee turnover, according to a new report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective, which advances economic justice and prosperity for all New Jerseyans through non-partisan, data-driven research, analysis, advocacy and strategic communications.

Legislative leaders, elected officials and advocates pointed to the report as another reason to move a statewide policy forward.

“New Jersey must continue to lead the way when it comes to protecting the rights of workers to a fair and healthy working environment,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, co-prime sponsor of legislation to extend earned sick days to all New Jersey workers. “Making sure every employee in our state has earned sick leave will give them the confidence to come to work when healthy and to stay home when ill, protecting the well-being of their co-workers, customers and family. No sick employee should ever have to go to work, out of fear that they could lose their job simply because they needed rest to get healthy. As NJPP’s report shows, employers in areas that already require sick leave, have benefited from the stability of a more productive workforce. Now it’s time to share those same benefits with workers and employers statewide.”

“Earned sick leave means stronger families, stronger workplaces and stronger communities,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who has made enacting earned sick leave legislation a priority. “Workers should never have to choose between caring for their health and keeping their paychecks or jobs. Earned sick leave is a modern and sensible workplace policy that is good for business and will prove crucial to New Jersey’s economic future, stability and strength.”

The report’s key findings:

  • The entire group of businesses employing the New Jersey workers without earned sick days would save up to $104.3 million each year.
  • Businesses in the six sectors with the largest number of workers without sick days would save even more – up to $126.4 million a year.

A bill that would implement a statewide standard, S-799, has cleared a key Senate committee but still needs to approval of the full Senate, as well as the full Assembly, where a similar bill, A-1446, has been introduced.

“Earned sick leave is a basic workers’ right that should be extended to all employees in New Jersey,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, prime sponsor of S-799. “Doing so will create a better working environment for the more than one million residents who currently do not have this critical benefit and will help to protect the health of workers and their families. Importantly, it will help businesses, too, resulting in increased worker productivity, reduced turnover, and protection against the spread of illness in the workplace that in some industries could pose a threat to the public. This report reinforces the very real benefits that a state earned sick leave law will provide. Workers and employers are already seeing the positive impact of policies enacted on the local level. It’s well past time that we implemented a law statewide.”

“More than one million New Jerseyans do not have access to any form of paid leave through their employer. Earned sick leave policies help workers to stay healthy and more productive, strengthening our economy and creating a healthier and happier workforce,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, the prime sponsor of A-1446. “Workers should not have to choose between their health and their livelihood. For many of our working class families, missing a day’s pay may mean not being able to put food on the table for their family. New Jersey has not only a moral obligation but a public health responsibility to provide all of our state’s residents with paid sick leave.”

While opponents claim that earned sick leave will lead to job losses, the experience of cities and states across the country – and right here in New Jersey – shows that just isn’t true.

“We were the first city in New Jersey to pass earned sick leave,” said Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City. “And now, over a year later, we continue to enjoy a growing economy – the fastest in the state – with more than 6,000 jobs added, hundreds of new businesses opening, and a thriving commercial sector. This is all proof that earned sick leave policies not only benefit workers, but also contribute to a strong local economy.”

After Jersey City passed earned sick leave in September 2013, many other New Jersey cities and towns followed suit. To date, a dozen municipalities across the state have policies on the books, thanks in large part to the dogged efforts of advocates.

“NJPP’s report echoes what we’ve been saying all along, as we’ve worked to help pass 12 municipal earned sick leave ordinances around the state: this common-sense policy is good for workers and the economy,” said Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of New Jersey Working Families. “Now’s the time to take what we’ve learned on the local level and apply it to a strong, consistent statewide standard that covers all workers in every municipality.”

“For the sake of working people across New Jersey, the time has more than come to adopt a paid sick days policy in our state. This report underscores that businesses too will reap the benefits,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Associate Director of New Jersey Citizen Action and Co-Convener of the Time to Care Coalition. “Any business owner who continues to oppose the policy is working against their own best interest, in addition to the best interest of their employees. This is both irrational and irresponsible.”

While the main focus of the NJPP report is how businesses could stand to save money under a statewide earned sick days policy, it also reinforces how vital this basic workplace right is for working men and women, particularly the working poor.

“The chance to earn sick time is especially important for low-income parents,” said Serena Rice, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “Most child care providers do not give a rebate if your child is home sick, so without paid sick time parents end up paying for care and taking a hit in their paycheck. When budgets are barely balanced, one or two days of the flu can create a crisis.”