Paid sick leave approved in Elizabeth

By Nicole Brown | Posted on November 19, 2015

Sinthia Soca , a Kean University senior, remembers when her mother ,who lives and works in Elizabeth, was very ill and had to make a crucial decision — go to work sick or possibly lose her maintenance job.

Soca has since watched her mother rush every day, after a long day at work, to walk the sidewalks of Elizabeth and give fliers to passersby; encouraging them to vote in favor of paid sick leave for workers in Elizabeth.

Now, Soca is grateful to the activists, labor leaders and residents of Elizabeth who overwhelmingly supported the initiative for paid sick leave.
“I am so happy. My mother was passionate about promoting the change,” said Soca. “Paid sick leave is helpful and it is needed.”

The paid sick-leave initiative that was approved on November 3 applies to all businesses, regardless of size. According to Elizabeth’s paid sick leave ordinance, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30-hours worked.

Paid sick leave for those who provide food services, home health care, child care or who are employed at businesses with 10 or more employees are capped at a rate of 40-hours per year. Employees at any other business with fewer than 10 employees will be allowed 24-hours of
paid sick leave each year.

Christie Ramirez, a Pre-Occupational Therapy major said she is thankful that the law was passed, but she is saddened that paid sick days are limited.

“My mother takes care of my grandmother who has cancer. She needs multiple sick days depending on how severe her illness is on a daily basis,” said Ramirez. “You just can’t tell your employees how many days they can get sick.”

The new law is expected to go into effect next year.


The National Partnership for women and families says paid sick leave is beneficial to both the employers and the employees.

“Access to paid sick days reduces the spread of the flu in the workplace by nearly six percent,” according to the group’s website. “Paid sick days save employers money by reducing turnover.”

Although paid sick leave continues to spark national debate, the United States still does not have a law that guarantees every worker the right to paid sick leave. California, Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only states within the United States that provide statewide paid sick leave to a majority of its workers.

In early September, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that required all part-time and full-time employees who are employed by Federal Contractors to be given paid sick leave.
At Kean’s Union campus, which borders Elizabeth, it is unclear whether contract workers get sick leave.

GCA Services Group, which has the contract for maintenance workers, and Compass, which acquired the contract for food service from Gourmet Dining, did not return requests for comment about paid sick leave policies. However, some food servers interviewed said they do get paid sick leave.

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