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Kates Nussman Rapone Ellis & Farhi, LLP

Will Paid Sick Leave Make Employers Sick?

Generally, private section employers are not required to pay employees for sick days. In New Jersey, there is no law that requires that. However, there has been a small movement in cities across the country to require certain businesses to pay their workers for sick days. San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Seattle all have passed some sort of city ordinance. Recently New York City and two New Jersey cities; Newark and Jersey City have passed such requirements.

The ordinances in each city vary in how large a business must be to fall within the law. For instance, in Newark, all employers must provide employees with paid sick leave regardless of size. In Jersey City, companies located within the city's limits that have 10 or more employees must provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave. In addition, businesses based outside of Jersey City but have employees who work at least 80 hours per year within city limits are required to provide them with paid sick leave.

Some are adamantly opposed to requiring employers to have paid sick days. Opponents fear that such laws will make the affected area unattractive for small businesses to establish themselves. They also say that they threaten jobs. A combination of required paid sick leave and mandatory raises of the minimum wage could lead to rising labor costs for small businesses. Finally, businesses claim that they will have a double payment - one to the sick employee and another to the person filling in for him or her.

Those who support required sick leave say that research shows a negligible negative economic impact. Many employers already give workers paid sick time and have the benefit of keeping them happy. The supporters also claim that these local laws are good for employers, too. Workers who don't get paid sick time are more likely to come to work sick and put co-workers and un-suspecting customers at risk. This is particularly true in the food industry.

More than 1.1 million New Jersey workers do not get paid sick time. Whether the benefits of requiring paid sick time outweigh the costs are for individual employers to decide. But if a business is located within an area where these local laws are in effect, it's important to consult with an attorney to ensure compliance. With the assistance of Charles J. Vaccaro, J.D. Candidate May 2015


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