Murphy Signs Paid Sick Leave at the War Memorial

TRENTON – A waitress sneezing and coughing on the food she brings you is hardly an appetizing prospect. That can happen when low-level employees are forced to work – even when sick – or not be paid.
 
That’s about to change.
 
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation today that will stop employees from having to choose between going to work sick or not being paid. The bill mandates that virtually all employees in New Jersey be paid for sick time up to a maximum of 40 hours, or one standard work week, a year. The bill takes effect in six months.
 
“This is about doing the right thing for our economy,” the governor said in a bill-signing ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial. He noted that economic progress can not be achieved unless accompanied by social progress.
 
The governor said mandatory sick leave can benefit businesses because it improves worker morale and productivity.
 
Major corporations, other businesses and government entities long have granted workers paid sick time. But it’s still an issue for some low-level and poorly-paid workers.
 
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-37th Dist., said many of those who will benefit from the bill work in the fast food industry or in day care centers. Estimates are that 1.2 million workers will be impacted by the bill.
 
Weinberg said passing the bill was a tough battle, noting some legitimate business concerns about cost. Some Republicans opposed the bill for the same reason.
 
In the end, the legislation that emerged was actually fairly modest. The one-week of annual paid sick leave is less than the 12 days a year, or one-day a month, that many large companies grant their employees,.
 
New Jersey became the 10th state to mandate paid sick leave. In the absence of state action, many municipalities in recent years adopted ordinances of their own mandating paid sick leave for employees in their cities or towns.
 
Murphy, who noted that he recently began his “second 100-days” in office, praised the social progress his administration is making. Last month, the governor signed a bill to eliminate gender inequality in the workplace by mandating equal pay for equal work.
 
That bill and the measure signed today had been stymied during the administration of Republican Governor Chris Christie.
 
Weinberg, who occasionally was the target of some of Christie’s wisecracks, pleasingly took note of the new environment.
 
“We can actually do something that affects the quality of life (in New Jersey) every day,” she said.
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