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Times of Trenton Editorial Promoting Earned Sick Days Legislation

Check out this Times of Trenton Editorial discussing the benefits of enacting statewide earned sick days, a policy our coalition continues to lead the fight for.


Editorial: Momentum grows for N.J. paid sick time proposal

By Times of Trenton Editorial Board 
on August 20, 2014 at 6:30 AM, updated August 20, 2014 at 6:35 AM

You wake up with a scratchy throat, or a stuffy nose. Soon it’s blossomed into a major cold – maybe the flu? – and now you’re grappling with the age-old conundrum: Stay home from work and forfeit a day’s pay, or haul your sorry self into work and share your germs with everyone around you.

The New Jersey Legislature is joining a rapidly growing movement to assure that workers don’t have to make that lose-lose choice. A bill under consideration would require employers to give workers one hour of sick time for every 30 hours they put in – from 40 to 72 hours depending on the company’s size.

If the measure finds traction in Trenton – which we fervently hope it does – New Jersey would become the second state after Connecticut to offer this important benefit. Jersey City and Newark have already shown the way, and other municipalities may be close behind.

Nationally, Washington, Vermont, Illinois, Nebraska and South Carolina are among states where similar measures are under consideration. On a federal level, Congress has tried for years to put a sick-leave bill on the books.

There’s a reason the momentum is growing. Some 40 percent of private-sector workers nationwide have no access to paid sick days, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; the figure rises to 79 percent in low-wage industries.

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine puts the cost of “presenteeism” – business-speak for coming to work despite being sick – at $180 billion, factoring in reduced productivity and the spread of contamination to co-workers.

Then there’s the human side: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that workers with the H1N1 virus have infected 7 million of their co-workers over the past few years. That doesn’t even count the millions of customers who interact with sick sandwich makers, sous chefs, sales clerks and school cafeteria workers, only to come away with more than a “have a nice day.”

Business owners fretting about the impact on their bottom line can look to nearby Connecticut, where the Center for Economic Policy Research surveyed 251 employers on how they were faring under the law. Three-quarters reported positive experiences. In San Francisco, which pioneered the practice in 2006, a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found six out of seven employers recorded no negative effect on profitability.

A statewide paid sick leave bill would benefit workers, to be sure, but it also would be a boon for employers, who stand to gain from attracting and retaining a loyal – and healthy – workforce.

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