Pro-worker laws that were stymied by the Republican Christie administration are coming to light again now that Democrat Phil Murphy has taken office. The first, a bill guaranteeing equal pay and benefits for women and minorities, has passed both the Assembly and Senate and awaits the governor’s signature. (A similar bill was vetoed by Christie.) The second, calling for paid sick leave, has been proposed in the legislature.

The equal pay bill would make it illegal for employers to pay less to protected classes of people including women and minorities, compared to their white male counterparts, if they do “substantially similar work.” It would also protect the rights of workers to share information about their jobs, including salaries. Employers with state contracts would have to disclose information about their employees.

The bill does come with a number of caveats: pay differentials are allowed only if there is a job-related reason for pay discrepancy besides discrimination against protected categories of workers. The protected classes include race, gender, ethnicity, disability, and age.

An employer violating these rules is not allowed to resolve the discrepancy by reducing anyone’s pay.

Paid sick leave bills have been proposed in the Senate and Assembly and are in committees. They would require employers to allow workers to earn paid sick leave, but only a modest amount. Workers could gain one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, but the law would not require employers to allow workers to accrue or use more than 40 hours per year. Sick leave hours must be paid at the same rate they normally earn.

Further, the employer would be allowed to block workers from taking certain days off and to require a doctor’s note.

Even this small amount of sick leave is out of reach for many lower wage workers under current law, especially those making less than $20,000. Nationally, less than one in four food service workers are allowed paid sick leave.

For its advocates, the bill is as much of a public health measure as it is a worker’s rights issue.

“Earned sick leave is a basic workers’ right that should be extended to all employees. It will create a healthier and safer work environment for our residents, but also will protect the health of the public,” said Senate majority leader Loretta Weinberg, who co-sponsored the bill with Linda Greenstein. “Cities across the country and in our state have already moved to provide earned sick leave to employees. It’s time that we provide a statewide law that protects all workers.”

Business groups have lobbied against the sick leave law. The NJBIA stopped opposing the bill after lawmakers added a number of amendments designed to make it easier on businesses, including exempting per diem healthcare workers and cutting the allowed amount of sick time nearly in half, from 72 to 40 hours.

#b#Crosstown Moves#/b#

Institute of Islamic Studies, 379 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Building 2, Cranbury 08512. 609-448-0100. www.iisnj.info.

The Institute of Islamic Studies has moved from its old headquarters on Princeton-Hightstown Road to Old Trenton Road, where it has built a mosque.

Quantum Integrators, 196 Princeton-Hightstown Road, Suite 1B-7, West Windsor 08550. 609-632-0621, www.quantumintegrators.com.

The management consulting company has moved to 196 Princeton-Hightstown Road.

#b#Expansions#/b#

Amicus Therapeutics, 600 College Road, Princeton 08540. 609-662-2000, www.amicusrx.com.

The pharmaceutical company, headquartered on Cedar Brook Drive in Cranbury, has opened an expansion office on College Road.

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