More workers in New Jersey's second-largest city are now eligible for paid sick leave.

Piotr Marcinski, ThinkStock

The Jersey City Council on Wednesday voted to extend the benefit to businesses that employ fewer than 10 workers.

Under the measure, those employers must provide workers with up to 24 hours of paid sick leave and up to 16 hours of unpaid sick time annually. Those businesses previously only had to provide unpaid time off.

Violators will face a maximum fine of $2,000, up from $1,250.

Christina Barresi, director of McGinley Square Partnership, which represents a group of local businesses, urged the council to reconsider, The Jersey Journal reported.

"They feel it would be very detrimental to the businesses," Barresi said. "These people work very hard. They have a lot of expenses and adding on other expenses would just be too much for them."

However, Tony Sandkamp of Sandkamp Woodworks told the council he offered paid sick leave to his five workers before it was legally required. Sandkamp said the policy has reduced employee turnover and has not cost as much as others have warned.

"I have a lot of tools in my shop, but earned sick days has been one of my favorites," he said.

Some critics have said they aren't opposed to paid sick leave but don't believe it should be a government mandate. Republican Gov. Chris Christie has warned that such proposals will stunt job growth and drive businesses out of the state.

State labor and trade associations estimate that 1.2 million workers in New Jersey still don't have paid sick leave, meaning they often have to choose between getting well and holding down a job.

 

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