The City Council of Newark, N.J. passed a law Tuesday guaranteeing sick leave for workers. After Mayor Luis Quintana signs, which he has promised to do, the law will require employers to provide up to five paid sick days a year at businesses that employ ten or more people. In the United States, 40 percent of workers in the private sector have no access to paid sick leave, which often forces them to choose between their health and their paychecks. The law comes amid efforts throughout the country to enact comprehensive paid sick leave. According to ThinkProgress: The law is the second in the state of New Jersey, coming just months after Jersey City’s mayor signed one into law, which went into effect on Friday. Its passage puts more pressure on statewide lawmakers to take action after a bill to enact paid sick days for all of the state’s workers was introduced last spring. Activists are positive that a bill will make it to Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) desk before the end of his term. While the state is one of just three that guarantees workers can take paid time off for the arrival of a new child, activists say that 1.2 million workers in the state don’t have access to paid sick days. There are many other efforts to enact paid sick days legislation elsewhere. Lawmakers and activists are pushing bills in California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, and Vermont as well as Tacoma, Wash. The new mayor of New York City is also pushing an expansion of its current law and Washington, D.C. recently passed an expansion of its own. Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; San Francisco; and the state of Connecticut also have laws on their books. A bill to ensure that all of the country’s workers can take paid leave for an illness has been introduced at the federal level but thus far hasn’t gone anywhere. Despite this progress, 10 states, including Arizona, Florida and Indiana, have passed laws prohibiting cities and localities from following in Newark's footsteps.
Sarah Berlin is an intern at In These Times.