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Sarah Fleisch Fink, Senior Policy Counsel

And Then There Were 10: New Jersey’s New Governor Signs Paid Sick Days Bill Into Law

Sarah Fleisch Fink | May 2, 2018

Today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Earned Sick and Safe Days Act, making New Jersey the 10th state to enact a paid sick days law and extending the right to earn paid sick days to an additional 1.2 million workers. Working people in New Jersey will now be able to take paid time away from work to recover from illness or care for a sick loved one, address issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or attend a child’s school-related meeting or conference without losing pay or risking job loss. The law’s signing is a tremendous victory for working families in New Jersey and especially women, who continue to handle most family caregiving responsibilities.

New Jersey’s paid sick days law, which will take effect in October, allows employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work, up to 40 hours per year. The Earned Sick and Safe Days Act covers paid sick time for a variety of caregiving relationships, including not just immediate family members, but also any individual related to the employee by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

This victory in New Jersey would not have been possible without the powerful advocacy and persistence of the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, as well as the legislation’s champions, Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and every state legislator who supported the bill.

The statewide law is the culmination of more than five years of paid sick days victories in New Jersey, beginning in 2013 when Jersey City passed its paid sick days law — and the result of a supportive governor. Paid sick days momentum is sweeping the country, with more than 30 new paid sick days laws taking effect in the past two years alone. While this has led to a rise in access to paid sick days, more than 37 million people still cannot earn a single paid sick day.

Increasingly, state and local leaders across the country recognize that paid sick days are good for workers, families, public health, businesses and the economy. Members of Congress should follow the lead of states like New Jersey and guarantee this basic workplace protection, and should oppose deceptive efforts to undermine paid sick days victories. The Healthy Families Act is a real paid sick days solution. It would set a national paid sick days standard so that no worker has to make the impossible choice between their health or the health of a loved one and their economic security.

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