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Prieto: Statewide paid sick leave an Assembly priority

The New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee is set to consider legislation this month that would require New Jersey employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers.  Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) said getting the legislation passed is a priority. 

Sick person
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

Under the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Voorhees), workers would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

“My bill requires mostly all employers to offer some form of paid sick leave policy,” Lampitt said.

Newark, Jersey City and Passaic have adopted paid leave policies, with Passaic’s council approving its ordinance late Tuesday night, and several other New Jersey towns are considering following suit. Lampitt said a statewide policy is needed because there are businesses with offices in places like Newark and Jersey City that are offering paid sick leave to employees in those cities, but not in other Garden State municipalities where they also have offices.

“People should be able to stay home and not feel that their job is threatened if they don’t come in when they’re sick,” Lampitt said.

Prieto said there are about 1.1 million workers in the state who do not have paid time off.

“It’s this simple – earned sick leave means stronger families, stronger workplaces and stronger communities. It should become law,” Prieto said in an emailed press release Aug. 6.

Many in the business community are against the measure because they said it would represent another expensive, but unfunded state mandate. The New Jersey Business and Industry Association is one group that plans to fight against the bill.

Stefanie Riefl, an assistant vice president of the NJBA, told the Associated Press last month that the goal of sick time for all workers is “very laudable,” but it would be costly for employers. She said about three-fourths of the state’s workers already have paid leave. Many of the others are seasonal workers or work in retail or restaurants. Riefl said in many businesses, requiring sick leave would mean the owners would have to pay both the worker who is off and a replacement brought in to fill in.

Lampitt said she knows businesses are concerned.  “As we talk to certain businesses we hear from them that some of it will be a hardship and I understand. We’re not looking to put businesses out of business. We’re looking to ensure that we have a healthy workforce.”

Lampitt expects the measure to pass the full Legislature, but she’s not sure whether Gov. Chris Christie will sign it.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

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