Statewide Earned Sick Days Bill an Important Step Forward

Brandon McKoyThis afternoon, the New Jersey Senate this afternoon approved S-785, Senator Weinberg’s bill that would allow over 1 million New Jersey workers to take sick time without losing a day’s pay or their jobs.

This is an important step forward for New Jersey’s workers, families, business and public health. Too many hard-working men and women have gone far too long without this vital workplace benefit. This common sense policy would help create safe and productive workplaces, improve public health, increases worker productivity and create savings for businesses.

The nature of work and family has changed significantly over the past several decades. For the vast majority of households, both adults now work full-time, making it hard for them to find the time to address health issues. For families with children, it is especially difficult for parents to schedule time to address health issues when their employers don’t provide paid sick days. For workers who are single parents, these problems are even harder.

Making sure that workers are able to stay home to get healthy or to care for an ill child is beneficial for everyone: it prevents the spread of disease at work and in schools, helps employees work more productively and prevents the economic damage that can occur as a result of unexpected health issues.

On the other hand, when people have to make the difficult choice between going to work while sick or staying home and risk losing their job, nobody wins. Employees that go to work when sick are less productive and risk spreading their illness to colleagues and customers. If they decide to stay home, they end up losing a day’s worth of pay that they can’t afford to miss (most of the 1 million workers are in low-wage jobs). When employers fire employees for not coming to work, they end up wasting time and money finding and training a new employee.

A strong, statewide standard for earned sick days that covers all workers will go a long way towards creating an economy that works for everyone. Ensuring that all businesses provide this important benefit will help employers save money, increase worker productivity and have a positive impact on public health.