Bill could make paid sick leave mandatory in New Jersey
Should paid sick leave be mandatory in New Jersey? The state Senate Labor Committee has released a bill that would require all employers to offer a certain number of paid sick days to workers, depending on the size of the company.
Under the measure, employees would be able to use paid sick time if they became ill, or if they needed to care for a family member.
Charles Hall Jr., the chairman of Working Families United for New Jersey, believes the legislation is very important.
"We think that it's a good thing for working people in our state, that currently don't have sick leave," he said. "You don't want workers coming to work who are sick and spreading what could be contagious illnesses."
Hall said right now, "there's a number of people in this state, mainly low income people who don't have sick leave, if they stay out of work it's devastating to them, losing a day's pay could mean not paying your rent. Losing a day's pay -- two, three, four days -- being out sick without pay, that's some families medical budget."
John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association is not a supporter of the measure.
"We just think it's an unnecessary government mandate, they're treading into an area where government just doesn't need to," he said.
Holub said the majority of businesses already offer some type of leave and to have a mandated one size fits all plan creates a burden, especially for small companies.
"My members are more than willing to work with their employees, give them the necessary time off they have and then work with them if they need to make up hours so they can come in, work extra shifts if they want to earn the extra money," he said.
Hall said everyone in the state deserves to be out sick when they're not feeling well enough to work, "and not fear losing their jobs perhaps or being without the pay, we're not asking for a whole lot, I think it's a maximum of six days in the bill."
"(People) may just need to be home to recover for one or two days without being devastated in their monthly or weekly budget for their families," Hall said.
According to Holub, however, the measure would take away some of the employers' flexibility.
"Businesses want to have the flexibility to offer the appropriate benefits, to be able to work with the employee, to be flexible when certain circumstances come up, and unfortunately this takes away that ability, that flexibility for the employer," he said.
The measure has already been released by an Assembly Committee and could be voted on before state lawmakers go on vacation next month.