Safiyyah Muhammad once felt that her job as a cashier was threatened when she informed her boss she had a sick child and wanted to miss work.
Now Muhammad and an estimated 1.2 million others can exhale after New Jersey enacted a law requiring employers to offer workers paid sick leave.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill Wednesday in Trenton at the War Memorial theater alongside lawmakers, first lady Tammy Murphy and Muhammad, a mother and grandmother.
"This law demonstrates a responsible, holistic inclusive approach to building and improving the great state of New Jersey," Muhammad said.
The Democratic governor embraced the bill as part of a campaign pledge to push the state in a more liberal direction.
"We are continuing to prove — and we are obsessed to prove— that economic progress can't be made without social progress and that social progress cannot be achieved without economic progress," Murphy said.
The legislation has been in the works and a top Democratic priority for years, and New Jersey becomes the 10th state along with the District of Columbia to enact sick-leave legislation.
"This law is a humane and long overdue chance in New Jersey workplace policy," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, the associate director of New Jersey Citizen Action, a left-leaning advocacy group that pushed for the measure.
Wednesday's approval comes after Murphy also signed into law measures strengthening the state's equal-pay-for-equal work legislation as well as increased funding for Planned Parenthood.
Under the leave bill, employers are required to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers may earn and carry forward up to 40 hours of sick leave per year.
The new law also gives New Jersey a statewide paid-sick-leave policy, superseding similar provisions enacted in 13 towns and cities.
Lawmakers and Murphy said the 1.2 million workers — many in food and personal-care services — would benefit from the new law.
The law is set to take effect in 180 days, which is Oct. 29.