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On the workplace front: Mandatory paid sick leave & fed minimum wage hike

Today, on the workplace front, two things happened that hopefully will bear economic fruit for those in the service communities.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to reporters after attending the weekly Democrat policy luncheon at the Capitol on January 7, 2014 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats gathered at a luncheon to discuss various issues including minimum wage.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

First, Newark, New Jersey became only the second municipality in that state to pass a mandatory sick leave ordinance. This past Friday saw Jersey City sign its law into effect.

The website NJBIZ reports that under the ordinance, full and part time employees will be able to earn up to one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. There is a 40-hour per year cap for businesses with 10 or more employees or those that offer child care, food care or direct care. Businesses with 9 or fewer employees will only be required to offer workers at least 24 hours of sick pay per year.

This comes on the heels of a state-wide bill, introduced last spring by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees), which awaits discussion. Executive director of the New Jersey Working Family Alliance Analilia Mejia said in a statement that, “Law makers should take notice. By extending the right to earn sick days to every single worker in the city, Newark’s earned sick day law will be one of the most comprehensive in the nation.”

Not everyone feels the same as business groups feel the new law will drive up employer costs and add unwanted regulations.

Secondly, in other news affecting the American worker, President Obama today signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, increasing their current wage of $7.25 to $10.10. The move applies to new workers under federal contracts. However, President Obama will also seek to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over a period of three years and index that increase to inflationary gains. Obama also will seek to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees as well.

Opponents of the bill say that doing so will put undo strain on businesses causing them to hire fewer employees at a time when the country needs to spur job growth. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell is signaling that a fight is on the horizon saying, “We have a crisis in employment among young people right now, and generation 18 to 30, people that got out of college, are finding there are no jobs for them. The last thing we want to do is have even fewer jobs for younger people."

Sources: Fox, Obama to sign executive order raising minimum wage for federal contractors, Ed Henry (with the AP), January 28, 2014; NJBIZ, Newark passes mandatory sick leave policy, Andrew George, January 28, 2014

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