The Princeton Council is considering an earned sick days ordinance, which would require employers to allow part time and full time workers up to five paid days of sick time a year. I support the policy both out of concern for public health, as it reduces spread of communicable diseases as well as basic human decency. Employees should have the same protections of their health and welfare regardless of their level of pay.
First presented to us by the advocacy group Working Families Alliance, the ordinance requires employers to provide a modest number of hours of paid time off for illness or to care for a sick family member after a worker has been employed for a number of months. If approved, Princeton would be joining 11 other New Jersey municipalities which have already adopted similar ordinances.
As a council member, I’ve heard from hundreds of residents, urging Princeton to enact an earned sick leave policy. They have emailed, called, come to council meetings, and more than a hundred residents wrote letters in support of the policy.
In speaking with a group of Princeton’s employers, I understand that some support an earned sick leave ordinance and many already provide this benefit. A council committee will be meeting with employers and members of the community in the coming weeks about the ordinance and its details. While the Working Families ordinance is our model, it is now in the hands of the council and the community to draft the actual ordinance we will adopt.
Princeton University representatives have indicated that the proposed ordinance would incur a high cost, and in our annual town-gown council discussion, President Eisgruber declined to discuss earned sick leave policy. I am looking forward to hearing from others in the University community to understand their views on the subject.
I believe all workers deserve paid sick leave, not just academic and white collar workers. It is not good for anyone when employees who are ill come to work or send their sick children to school out of desperation. Princeton’s workers should be treated fairly regarding sick time regardless of income level. An earned sick leave policy protects the public health, and it is humane, and I believe it represents the values of our community.