A State Senate committee approved a proposal to retroactively and moving forward pay workers who had to miss time due to issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate’s Labor Committee passed a bill that would require employers to provide paid earned sick leave on a temporary basis to address employee leave issues and alleviate other pressures resulting from the pandemic.
“(This bill provides) workers with easy access to these safety-net programs during a health crisis that still continues will allow them to care for themselves and their families, and allow them to make stressful decisions without concerns about leave time,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37)
Full and Part-Time Workers
The leave provided under the bill, S-3827, would be in addition to the earned sick leave that is required by current law, in which employees are entitled to at least 40 hours of sick time per year accrued at least at the rate of one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
The new leave would be provided for employees who normally work 40 or more hours in a week, 80 hours. For those classified as part time employees who normally work fewer than 40 hours in a week, a number of hours would be equal to the number of hours that such employee works over a two-week period.
Weinberg highlights the inclusion of part-time employees is crucial as they represent a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce, as people who are covered by earned sick leave tend to be low-earners and/or part-time workers.
“It will reduce the spread of communicable diseases, as many people covered by the minimum leave policy work in jobs that involve a lot of interaction with others, such as food preparation or retail,” said Weinberg.
Most employers who provide the new sick time would be eligible to apply for reimbursement of pay issued during the leave under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act.
The bill comes at the same time Rep. Josh Gottheimer is proposing a back-to-work bonus for those currently receiving unemployment to re-enter the workforce with monies from the American Rescue Plan. Gottheimer wants to offer a one-time incentive of $500 for residents who are currently unemployed, if they start a job by Aug. 1 and maintain employment through at least Sept. 1.
The congressman believes the bonus would help “get more Jersey residents back to work, will help local businesses stay afloat and get them the staff they desperately need to fully function, will set both our families and businesses up for success in our post-COVID economy, and will help Jersey and our economy fully rebound.”
The bid to address the labor shortage comes with the news that the number of people involuntarily working part-time has increased by 45% since 2007, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey cited by Weinberg. Black and Hispanic workers have been most impacted by this shift as 6.8% of Hispanic employees and 6.3% of Black employees have part-time hours but want to work full-time, compared with 3.7% White workers.
“These are employees who have kept our economy running, putting themselves at risk, even during the darkest hours of the past year, often putting off the well-being of other members of their families in order to earn a pay-check. It is only right they be allowed their full complement of sick days,” noted Weinberg.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 9,318,817 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 9,676,791 as of June 17. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,477,411 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 172,039 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,649,450.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 51% are White, 15% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 26% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 18% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,019,502 doses (492,679 fully vaccinated), Essex 775,386 doses (368,533), Hudson 669,995 doses (313,354), Morris 600,051 doses (289,141), Passaic 476,746 doses (226,073), Sussex 139,533 doses (67,997), and Warren 90,657 doses (43,996).
As of June 17, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 890,878 with 195 total new PCR cases reported. There were 64 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 129,686. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,020,564.
As for those that have passed, the state reported seven new deaths, bringing that total to 23,674. The state listed probable deaths at 2,690, bringing the overall total to 26,364. State officials noted one death occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that has not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on June 17, Bergen had a total of 21 new confirmed cases and three new probable case, Essex 20 new cases and four new probable cases, Hudson 15 new cases and nine new probable cases, Morris eight new cases and four new probable cases, Passaic 19 new cases and seven new probable cases, Sussex three new cases and two new probable cases, and Warren had two new cases and no probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,711, followed by Bergen at 2,580, Hudson with 2,082, Passaic at 1,732, Morris at 978, Sussex at 237, and Warren County at 211.
In regards to probable deaths reported June 16, Essex has 300, Bergen has 299, Morris has 261, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 199, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported June 17, it increased to 0.91 from 0.90 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested June 12, was 1.4%; by region, the rate was 1.1% in the North, 2.4% in the Central region and 1.0% in the South.
Officials reported 304 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 110 in the North, 103 in the Central and 91 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 84 are in intensive care units and 43 on ventilators. A total of 40 patients were discharged, while 13 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 89,967, followed by Middlesex at 84,995, Essex at 84,810, Hudson at 78,963, Monmouth at 67,621, Ocean at 65,821, Passaic at 65,789, Union at 60,553, Camden at 49,077, Morris at 41,960, Burlington at 38,317, Mercer at 31,694, Gloucester at 26,599, Atlantic at 24,957, Somerset at 24,337, Cumberland at 14,895, Sussex at 11,725, Warren at 8,972, Hunterdon at 8,931, Salem at 5,547, and Cape May at 4,631.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,686, followed by Union at 11,085, Ocean at 10,341, Essex at 9,560, Hudson at 9,301, Morris at 8,308, Monmouth at 8,080, Middlesex at 7,516, Passaic at 7,422, Camden at 6,721, Atlantic at 6,647, Burlington at 5,983, Somerset at 5,801, Cape May at 4,602, Gloucester at 4,035, Mercer at 2,428, Sussex at 2,325, Cumberland at 2,280, Warren at 1,029, Hunterdon at 902, and Salem 537.
Another 717 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 46 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,344 of the cases, broken down between 487 residents and 857 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,476 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,785 residents and 22,240 staff, for a total of 55,025.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,059 on June 17. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,879 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.