Today, NJ Working Families director Analilia Mejia is being honored by President Obama for her leadership in advancing earned sick days laws in nine municipalities across New Jersey. You can watch the live stream of the ceremony here. Below are her thoughts on what this recognition means and the urgent need to ensure everyone in New Jersey has access to paid sick days:
In New Jersey, 1.2 million workers are unable to care for themselves or their family when illness strikes. This creates an impossible situation for the parent who faces a shortened paycheck and a sick child who should be cared for at home. It also hurts local economies, because every shortened paycheck means groceries left unpurchased. And it threatens our public health when a sick worker feels forced to come into work.
As a child, I often watched my parents make that impossible calculus: care for my sister and myself or make the mortgage payment that month. Take my grandfather to the doctor, and risk a smaller paycheck, or push an appointment back. This issue hits home for far too many in my home state of New Jersey. Medical care goes unsought and illness is spread unnecessarily.
All of this can be prevented with a simple policy that allows all workers to earn time they can take when the inevitable happens.