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Paid Sick Days & Paid Leave Bills Approved in D.C. and New Jersey

Efforts to make the workplace more family-friendly achieved some important victories in the last week in Washington, D.C. and New Jersey.

Paid Sick Days in D.C.: On March 4th, the Washington D.C. City Council voted to become the second city to require most employers to provide paid sick days for employees. Under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, employees will be guaranteed:

  • seven days of paid leave at firms with 100 employees
  • five days at firms with 25-99 employees
  • three days in firms with 24 or less employees
  • a pro-rated amount of sick days off for part-time workers

Last minute amendments approved on 7-6 votes weakened the bill by delaying benefits until a year after an employee starts work, exempted most health care workers and wait staff, and created a "hardship" exemption loophole for some businesses. But community and labor leaders in the city still lauded the bill for providing up to 200,000 city workers with a needed benefit to care for themselves and their families in times of sickness.

Paid Leave in New Jersey:  On March 3rd, the New Jersey State Senate approved S 786, which would authorize six weeks of paid family leave during any 12-month period to allow employees to care for an ill family member, newborn or recently adopted child. Employees would receive two-thirds of their regular weekly pay, up to $524 per week. The leave would be funded through contributions made by all employees in the state of 0.14% of earned wages (roughly a quarter per week for minimum wage workers) into the State Disability Fund; the Fund would then distribute the funds to an estimated 38,000 people per year once the system is up and running.

If approved by the New Jersey State Assembly today (which is considered likely), the legislation will make New Jersey the third state after California and Washington to establish long-term paid family leave. 

Well over a dozen states have been considering paid sick days  or paid leave legislation this year, including an Ohio paid sick days initiative likely to appear on the ballot in November.

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