MORRISTOWN, NJ - Residents and business owners in Morristown are divided over the recent ordinance passed mandating all business owners to provide all their employees with paid sick days. While many agree it is important to allow workers to take time off while sick, most small business owners feel it is not financially feasible and would require cutbacks in staff.
According to Ordinance No. O-35-2016, which was passed back in September, all employees will accrue one hour of paid paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The number of hours each business is required to provide is based on the number of employees working for the company,
This, according to members of the council, will help decrease the spread of disease as well as prevent workers from being penalized for having an illness or taking care of a sick relative.
Marisa Spagnoletti, owner of Lucy’s Gifts in Morristown was one of the many business owners who spoke out against this ordinance. Lucy’s Gifts was founded in honor of her late husband Maurice Spagnoletti and all of its net profits are donated to the Maurice J. Spagnoletti Foundation.
Sign Up for E-News
Spagnoletti says she currently has 15 employees who are paid above minimum wage who are very dependent on keeping their job.
“We love our employees, treat them like gold and work with them with their schedules, need for time off etcetera, but this ordinance is very costly and may cause us to re-evaluate this location, would break my heart, when our lease is up,” she said.
She also said many local businesses in town pay their employees “off the books” which is why many may not be speaking against this ordinance.
After recently opening a second Lucy’s Gifts location, Spagnoletti feels it is not appropriate for the council to dictate how she pays her employees.
“Why is the government telling me how to run my company?” She asked, “The focus should be on helping small companies grow not cripple their ability to even survive.”
However many other residents and council members feel that paid time off is a basic right of all employees.
Daniele Mena, a resident of Morristown and employee of Morristown Club presented the council with a petition in support of this ordinance. Mena says she holds two jobs while attending college and cannot afford lose pay because of an illness.
Others argue that this ordinance prevents individuals from losing their job because of an illness or illness of a family member.
While many council members continued to voice their support of this ordinance, Councilwomen Alison Deeb expressed her concern regarding the legal ramifications of this ordinance.
“I am not saying that this ordinance needs to be repealed, just delayed until we can look it over more,” she said.
Currently, many business owners have contacted lawyers and are prepared to take legal action if this ordinance is enforced.
While no additional decisions were made at the most recent council meeting, they have agreed to continue looking into the language of the ordinance to see if adjustments need to be made.