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Saving the jobs of lifesavers


While the bill doesn't mandate employers directly pay the workers for missed time, the employees would be able to use vacation or sick time.

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                                                                                     Saving the jobs of lifesavers
                                                                                           Bill aims to defend employees who also volunteer as emergency responders
                                                                                                        BY ANDREW KITCHENMAN                                                 two or three employees; “an hour’s notice is not
                                                                                            A BILL MAKING IT harder for a business to dis-                                   really a lot of time to try to replace an employee,”
                                                                                            miss or suspend an employee who misses work to                                   Stearns said.
                                                                                            volunteer as an emergency responder passed the                                         Stearns said it is hard to judge the frequency
                                                                                            Assembly over business objections that the mea-                                  with which problems would occur. She added that
                                                                                            sure is too broad.                                                               there is a widespread sense that most employers
                                                                                                  Workers would have to give employers one                                   would work through these issues without a con-
                                                                                            hour’s notice before leaving for an emergency call                               flict occurring.
                                                                                            as a firefighter or first-aid, rescue or ambulance                                     Before the final vote, the bill was amended
                                                                                            volunteer. While the bill doesn’t mandate employers                              to require volunteers actively take part in emer-
                                                                                            directly pay the workers for missed time, the employ-                            gency responses, and that they be necessary for
                                                                                            ees would be able to use vacation or sick time.                                  the responses.
                                                                                                  Bill sponsor Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty                                        Moriarty expressed doubt that many people
                                                                                            (D-Washington) said he attempted to take busi-                                   would take advantage of the measure, noting many
                                                                                            nesses’ concerns into account in the final version                               workers would be hesitant to use vacation or sick
                                                                                            of the bill.                                                                     days. However, those who do find it necessary to call
                                                                                                  “There were fears that maybe this would be                                 out from work should not lose their jobs, he said.
                                                                                            abused by first responders,” Moriarty said.                                            “I think that we need to have some sort of
                                                                                                  The New Jersey Business & Industry Asso-                                   employment protection,” he said.
                                                                                            ciation opposed the measure. It may have supported                                     Moriarty also said most businesses are happy
                                                                                            the measure if it was strictly limited to states of emer-                        their workers are willing to make personal sacri-
                                                                                            gency, but the bill includes all emergency calls, said                           fices for their communities.
                                                                                            Christine Stearns, NJBIA vice president of health                                      “Most employers want good employees, and
                                                                                            and legal affairs.                                                               good employees are usually people who are involved
                                                                                                  “We want to support the work of first respond-                             in their community and give of their time,” Moriarty
                                                                                            ers,” Stearns said, but the private sector has work-                             said. Unfortunately, he said, there are tim
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