Government

Town of Morristown Rolls Out 'Earned Sick Day Ordinance"

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MORRISTOWN, NJ - A press conference was held at Wells Rug Service regarding the recent Earned Sick Day ordinance which was passed in Morristown.

According to Ordinance No. O-35-2016, which was passed back in September, states 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. With this law, employees will accrues one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Those that work in businesses with 10 or more employees can earn 5 paid sick days per year; workers in businesses with nine or fewer employees would be eligible to earn 3 paid sick days per year. In addition, employees directly in contact with the public, such as food service and daycare workers would be eligible to earn 5 sick days regardless of company size. The days can be used to care for themselves or for sick children, siblings, parents, grandparents or grandchildren.

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Although many small business owners were against this ordinance because they felt it would be an extreme financial burden, the ordinance was supported by not only the mayor, but many private organizations as well. At the press conference, New Jersey Working Families political director, Craig Garcia led the discussion and introduced many of the speakers who attended the conference.

“This is a big victory for workers here in Morristown,” he said. “Paid sick time can improve both public and individual health by encouraging workers to seek preventive care as well as reducing exposure to contagious illness in the workplace. I am confident that this ordinance is the right choice for the Morristown community.”

Garcia and NJWF has been an advocate for this law and hopes to see it implemented in other municipalities. Those in attendance included New Jersey Citizen Action, NAACP of Morris County, Rutgers Center for Women and Work and the Morris County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

In 2013, Jersey City became the first municipality in the state to adopt a local ordinance mandating the right for all private sector workers. Since then, 11 New Jersey municipalities passed earned sick time laws-- showing the sign of continued momentum for the issue statewide.

“Morristown is the latest municipality to enact the earned sick day ordinance and it won't be the last,” said Garcia. “The local victory here in Morristown continues to build the momentum for a statewide earned sick days bill that protects all New Jersey workers who risk their health and family’s health in order to make ends meet. We applaud Mayor Dougherty and the Morristown Town Council for passing this ordinance and standing up for workers’ rights.”

Mayor Timothy Dougherty expressed his support for this ordinance. According to Dougherty, other municipalities who have passed this law were pleased with the results it had in the community.

“Morristown looks out for its businesses and its workers,” he said.

However, this law has not received all positive feedback.

Marisa Spagnoletti, owner of Lucy’s Gifts in Morristown was one of the many business owners who spoke out against this ordinance stating that the financial burden of providing paid sick days would cause her to have to cut down on staffing.

“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.

As of today today, the paid sick leave ordinance is in full effect. The Morristown Division of Health  is responsible for coordinating implementing and enforcing this Ordinance. The Morristown Division of Health may be contacted by mail or in-person at 200 South Street, 2nd Floor, Room 214, Morristown, NJ 07963; online at health@townofmorristown.org or by fax to 973-292-6730.

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