The New Jersey Senate recently passed a bill that will require all employers in the state to provide paid sick leave to its employees. The news has been well received by the more than one million New Jersey workers currently without paid time off for illness, which proponents for the bill say is a risk to workplace safety and public health. Both the House and the Assembly support the legislation, but more work needs to be done to iron out details before it can be sent to Governor Christie.
The current Senate bill calls for all employers with 10 or more employees to allow workers to earn at least 72 hours of paid sick leave, and employers with less than 10 employees would be required to allow employees to earn at least 40 hours of paid sick leave. Towns and cities with existing paid sick leave laws would be grandfathered in, but must offer at least the same minimum requirements of the new legislation. The Assembly’s bill gives local municipalities in the state the freedom to design their own system of paid sick leave. Both must agree on one structure before the legislation can move forward.
According to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, almost three quarters of businesses in the state already afford their employees some form of paid sick leave. Ninety percent of the state’s employers also give employees some form of paid time off. Opponents for the bill claim that forcing employers to comply with a uniform law would put a significant financial burden on small business owners. Those in favor of the bill claim that workers have a right to be able to stay home to recuperate when they are sick, or if they need to take care of an ill relative or family member. Without paid time off, many workers choose to come into work when they are ill, which risks their own health, but also risks contamination of the workplace.
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