Murphy signs paid sick leave mandate into law

Gov. Phil Murphy signed what will be one of the nation’s most expansive paid sick leave programs into law Wednesday, requiring companies give workers up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

While 13 municipalities in New Jersey had previously enacted earned sick leave mandates, private-sector employees working elsewhere in the state were not guaranteed any sick leave.

“There is no reason anyone should have to choose between economic security and their health,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “After today, New Jerseyans will no longer have to face such a choice. I am proud to sign into law one of the strongest earned leave protections in the country for every hardworking employee who deserves the basic right of a paid sick day.”

The new law would allow workers to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours a year. It allows employers to create more generous policies as well.

Under the law, employees may use paid sick leave for:

  • Diagnosis, treatment, or recovery from a mental or physical illness or injury, or preventive care, for the employee or a family member;
  • Obtaining services if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic or sexual violence;
  • Circumstances arising from a public health emergency;
  • A school-related meeting or event with regard to the employee’s child.

The law was sponsored by Sens. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Linda Greenstein (D-Cranbury), Assemblymen Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), Paul Moriarty (D-Turnersville), Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) and the late Jerry Green, and Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees) and Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson).

“Workers should not have to choose between caring for their health and keeping their paychecks or jobs,” Lampitt said in a statement. “Guaranteeing workers the ability to earn paid sick days would help ensure workers do not have to choose between their health and their economic security. New Jersey should be a leader in the fight for this common-sense, pro-worker policy.”

The bill was modified from previous forms, which pleased Michele Siekerka, CEO and president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

“The New Jersey Business & Industry Association has monitored this bill for several years now, and has worked with our policymakers to ensure that any such bill takes into consideration the impacts it will have on those who need to operate by it: New Jersey business owners,” she said in a statement. “We appreciate the substantial amendments to this legislation, made by its sponsors, which will mitigate impacts on well-intended employers.”

Siekerka cited a reduction in mandated time from a maximum of 72 hours to the 40 in the new law, as well as certain other provisions.

“While we have historically opposed this mandate, NJBIA appreciates these important amendments, the deliberation taken by the bills’ sponsors to understand its impacts on businesses and for working in the spirit of compromise, while achieving their overall goal,” she said.