New Jersey Needs Sick Pay Legislation (October 15, 2014)

Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman,

NEARLY 700 people, most of them children, have been diagnosed with enterovirus D68 and five have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many more, sick with cold and flu-like symptoms, have gone undiagnosed. No one doubts that these children need a parent at home to take care of them. It would be criminal for a parent to leave a child, wheezing and gasping for breath, alone to cope with these symptoms while he or she goes to work.

Yet today, many employers in New Jersey and elsewhere can tell a parent, “I don’t care what your problem is. Come in today or don’t bother coming back!” Even parents who don’t face dismissal must often give up a day’s pay to care for a sick child. Workers in low-wage or part-time jobs are especially vulnerable.

The state Legislature has a chance to change that.

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