National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness, Paid Sick Days

Good News for New Jersey’s Working Families

New Jersey became a little more family friendly last week. On Tuesday, the governor signed into law a bill that protects pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace. And on Friday, the state’s first sick days law took effect. Together, with continued progress on paid sick days and the state’s successful paid family leave program, these laws will help build a healthier, more economically secure New Jersey.

When the new anti-discrimination law takes effect, it will guarantee pregnant workers the same reasonable workplace accommodations available to all workers with temporary physical limitations, such as being able to carry a water bottle or sit while providing customer service. Despite federal protections provided by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, pregnant workers across the country are often denied these accommodations today.

But combating discrimination and advancing equality are just part of the solution when it comes to enabling people to meet their responsibilities at home and on the job. That is why Jersey City’s new paid sick days law is so important. Ensuring people can earn basic sick days keeps them from having to choose between their jobs and their own health or the health of their families or communities when illness strikes.

As of today, Jersey City’s law guarantees that workers in the city at businesses with 10 or more employees have the right to earn paid sick days, and workers in smaller businesses have the right to earn unpaid sick days. It is the nation’s seventh paid sick days law, and it will make a tremendous difference for workers, their families, businesses and Jersey City communities. It also helps pave the way for a much-needed statewide paid sick days standard.

These developments in New Jersey show that progress is possible. We commend the workers, advocates and lawmakers who championed these laws, and we look forward to more progress for working families in New Jersey, in other states and cities, and at the federal level. State and local lawmakers are increasingly recognizing the importance of keeping people in their jobs and contributing to local businesses and the economy. It is time for Congress to do the same.


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