TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey lawmakers’ push to require employers to offer paid sick leave, an effort gaining momentum across the state, attracted a standing-room-only crowd at a committee hearing Thursday and touched off an hourslong debate after a vote was postponed.
Labor and trade associations spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that low-wage workers face economic hardships when they take off from work due to sickness but do not get paid.
“An earned sick day standard will boost our state’s working families’ economic and personal health,” Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the labor-aligned NJ Citizen Action group, said in a statement.
Employers’ organizations, including the New Jersey Restaurant Association, support the idea of paid sick leave but suggested amending the bill to prevent workers from exploiting such a system.
Others, such as like the right-leaning advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, oppose the measure, saying it would drive up costs for employers and stifle competition.
“It is not that AFP is against (the concept). We are against the mandate of it. It is mandates like these that make me question opening a business of my own in New Jersey,” said Danielle Cyr of the New Jersey branch of AFP.
Under the current proposal, workers would be entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work. They could accrue up to 40 hours– or five days for full-time employees of small employers– and up to 72 hours for large employers.
The committee had planned to vote on the measure Thursday, but decided at the last minute only to hear testimony, said Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, after several stakeholders suggested amendments. The Senate has not yet taken up the measure.
A handful of New Jersey towns, including Newark and Jersey City, have similar local laws. Measures for additional ones are on the ballot next month in Montclair and Trenton.
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