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Paid sick days needed in NJ

New bills need to pass to preserve basic needs of workers

A new trend is about to (hopefully!) start sweeping New Jersey — this time, a legislative one.

Jersey City has proposed a bill mandating paid sick days, the first of its kind in the state. The bill would call on companies with at least 10 employees to allow five paid sick days, and for companies with less than 10 employees to allow five unpaid sick days.

Shortly after, Newark followed suit by proposing a similar bill of their own.

No city in New Jersey currently mandates paid sick days for employees. Jersey City may become the first one, ranking it among the few other cities in the country to do so.

And we really hope it does.

The bill came to fruition in Jersey City with employees’ needs in mind —  it intends to stop employees from having to sacrifice personal, or family members’, health for a day’s wage. We believe the purpose of it is a noble one. Paid sick days are a humane way of preserving workers’ rights and dignities instead of reducing them to only production machines, and rendering them worthless when not in good health.

New York City caught onto this reality earlier this year, when, despite Mayor Bloomberg’s veto, the city council passed a measure compelling businesses with ovr 20 employees to provide paid sick days to their workers, lowering that condition to companies of 15 of more employees in the next year.

While opponents may claim that providing paid sick days for employees could be detrimental to small businesses, the bills are designed to prevent that from happening by limiting their statutes to only businesses of a certain size. In Connecticut, for example, the law only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees.

Plus, we believe the limitation on how many paid sick days an employee receives is an excellent way to prevent the new measures from being taken advantage of.

It only makes sense for employees to be encouraged to stay home and take care of themselves when they’re sick. This not only prevents the spread of more sickness, but also nurtures a healthier and more productive workforce, at a profit to businesses. A study found that less than 1% of private sector payrolls are attributed to paid sick days. At the same time, the decreased productivity of sick employees in the workplace have put a $160 billion dent in businesses every year.

With over 1.2 million New Jersey employees that don’t receive paid sick days, this would not only be a relief to a huge bracket of the population, but it would also be a major benefit to the economy. San Francisco, the first city to pass paid sick day laws, enjoyed greater production and job growth in the years after making the change.

Having paid sick days is a basic necessity of workers and we are surprised that it has taken this long for them to be provided in the first place. We hope that the passage of these laws in Jersey City and Newark will create momentum for similar bills to be proposed and voted in across the state. Especially with the current state of NJ’s economy, our residents most certainly need it.

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