by Dena Mottola Jaborska
Because we need to care for sick children or elderly parents, nearly half of women report they have lost pay, have been passed over for a promotion, or have struggled to retain their jobs. In fact, job-losses among low-income women-who are the least likely to have paid sick days-are most often the result of the birth or illness of a child.
Nearly three-quarters of moms with young children also work outside the home, and with women still taking on the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities, it is critical that being good parents does not cost us our livelihoods. No one should have to choose between their job and the health of a loved one. When mothers are able to stay home to care for their sick children who have a quicker recover and this reduces health care costs. That’s why we need the New Jersey Legislature to stand up for our families and support legislation that creates a minimum standard of earned sick days for all workers.
With most of New Jersey’s post-recession job growth concentrated in low-wage industries typically filled by women, such as retail, service and hospitality, and home health care, it is critical that these jobs can support families. That means establishing basic protections like earned sick days, which strengthen economic security for working people and their families. When working people earn enough money to cover the basics, it helps the whole economy. When employers provide earned sick days, workers are more committed and productive, and workplaces stay healthy. When moms do better, our communities are stronger.
Mothers in New Jersey are counting on our elected leaders to do what’s best for moms, our children, and the health and well-being of our communities. New Jersey has already proven itself to be a leader by establishing a family leave insurance program; the next step is to provide all the state’s workers with access to earned sick days. This minimum standard would help us all balance the many challenges of caregiving for sick family members and being productive workers.
This year, Mother’s Day should be about more than flowers and chocolate-it should be about making a real difference in the lives of working families and giving mothers’ the invaluable gift of the time to care.
Dena Mottola Jaborska, a mother of two, works at New Jersey Citizen Action, a member of the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition (www.njtimetocare.org).
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