CREDIT: The Star-Ledger
On Thursday, a group of women lawmakers were joined by union and community leaders to promote a bill that would guarantee New Jersey workers paid sick leave.
The bill, A4125, was introduced by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in the spring. It would give workers at companies with more than 11 people the ability to accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave a year and five days a year for those at smaller companies.
While New Jersey is one of just three states that offer workers paid family leave, the lawmakers say 1.2 million New Jersey residents don’t have access to paid time off if they or a loved one falls sick.
The battle in New Jersey comes as the fight to pass similar legislation heats up in Massachusetts. If either succeeds in passing a bill, it would join five other cities and the state of Connecticut. New York City was the latest to pass such a law, becoming the largest city in the country to guarantee workers paid sick leave.
But while momentum grows to pass paid sick days bills in cities and states, so too does a movement to pass legislation that would ban any such laws. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) recently signed a bill that blocks local governments from implementing paid sick leave legislation. But that state is just one of many places where such bills have cropped up, including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mississippi. These laws are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s efforts to weaken work standards, and since 2011 67 such bills have been introduced in state legislatures, 12 of which have been signed into law.
While these business-affiliated opponents say they are concerned about the costs of paid sick leave, many studies have found that they have either no effect or a positive one on companies’ bottom lines. Washington, DC’s law has been found to have no negative impact, while San Francisco’s has strong business support and was even found to have spurred job growth. There has been little cost in Connecticut with big potential upsides.