N.J. considers mandating paid sick time for more than 1 million workers

    More than a million New Jersey workers don’t get paid sick days. A bill in the state Legislature would change that.

    The measure would set a standard for all employees in the Garden State to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to maximum of nine paid days off.

    Some employers might not be able to afford it, cautioned Stephanie Riehl with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

    “Businesses just may not be able to shoulder that kind of a burden in this economy,” she said.

    The primary sponsor of the legislation, Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, said Wednesday the benefits of providing the paid sick time should offset those concerns.

    “When employees stay home because they’re sick and they’re not infecting other people — at the end of the day, it probably won’t cost (employers) more money,” said Lampitt, D-Camden.

    She offered to work with businesses to make any needed changes in the bill to ensure the sick days are not abused.

    Many of the 38 percent of the private-sector workers who don’t get paid sick days are likely to go to work when they’re ill, putting the health of co-workers and the public at risk, said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

    “Obviously we don’t want people sneezing in our linguini when it’s served to us, and we don’t want people spreading the flu when they should be home and taking care of themselves,” she said.

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