Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paid Sick Leave Bill Moves Forward

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paid Sick Leave Bill Moves Forward

Article excerpt

Strong opposition in New Jersey's business community to a bill that would require employers to give their workers paid sick leave failed to prevent the Democratic-backed legislation from moving ahead Monday.

The state Assembly Labor Committee voted 6-3 along party lines to approve the bill, rejecting the criticism of some of the state's biggest business groups, which testified at the committee hearing in Trenton.

The bill would require employers to grant workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers at companies with fewer than 10 employees would be able to accrue up to 40 hours of sick time that could be carried over from one year to the next. Employers with 10 or more workers would be required to allow workers to accrue and carry over up to 72 hours of sick leave.

Bill supporters say 1.1 million people in the state are unable to take paid sick leave. But opponents say it will hurt businesses.

"We are concerned about the lack of flexibility in this bill," Mary Ellen Peppard, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Food Council, a Trenton-based group that represents food retailers, told the committee. "Our members do things differently. Our members provide paid time off, but they don't necessarily call it sick time. This imposes a one-size-fits-all standard."

The New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce and New Jersey Business and Industry Association, both also of Trenton, said they had discussed the bill at length with legislators and remain opposed to it.

Legislators approved several amendments to the bill, on which the committee heard testimony but did not vote this month. But they did not appear to address business leaders' concerns. The amendments included one that would prevent anything in the bill interfering with workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and another that would allow workers to take time off if they suffered from sexual violence.

The bill now heads for a vote by the Assembly Budget Committee, and then on to the full Assembly, where Speaker Vincent Prieto, D- Secaucus, has said he will make the bill's passage a priority. …

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