A small business group is staunchly opposed to new legislation that would require companies to give workers one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. 

“If an employee doesn’t show up for work the work still has to get done,” said Laurie Ehlbeck, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) New Jersey State Director. “That means that small businesses must transfer other employees, pay someone else overtime or hire a temporary worker. In all three of those cases they’re essentially paying twice for the same labor.”

The bill only pertains to New Jersey workers who are not currently earning sick time.

Most employees in New Jersey already get paid sick leave said Ehlbeck. She says small businesses are eager to treat their workers generously and attract better talent by offering better pay and benefits, but the practical truth is that many small businesses can’t afford to provide the benefit.

“If you’re running a small business on very small margins in a very slow economy, where are you supposed to get the money to cover this new expense,” asked Ehlbeck.

A similar bill was proposed in Massachusetts last year. Ehlbeck says when lawmakers there considered the impact predicted by NFIB research, which showed thousands of lost jobs, they abandoned the idea.

“All of these ideas spring from good intentions but they just don’t consider the real-world economic consequences,” explained Ehlbeck. “Small businesses will be affected and it will create another incentive to automate your workforce, lay off employees, limit hiring or simply give up on New Jersey as a place to do business.”