We often talk about the importance of a paid sick days standard for families’ economic security and our public health — but paid sick days are also an issue of basic fairness. That was a key topic at Monday night’s panel discussion on the disproportionate impact the lack of paid sick days has on low-income communities and women of color. The event was hosted by the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University.
It was a lively discussion that underscored the appalling fact that tens of millions of workers in the United States don’t have a single paid sick day. These workers risk their economic security when illness strikes or family emergencies occur. Women of color have it even tougher. They’re more likely to hold jobs that don’t have paid sick days. In addition, women of color are consistently paid less than the national average — and are more likely to be both the primary caregiver and the main breadwinner for their families.
Particularly in this economy, with unemployment high and money and jobs scarce, women of color simply can’t afford to take time off work to meet their families’ health needs without the protection of paid sick days.
Monday night’s discussion made clear that for women of color, who already face economic inequality and health disparities, paid sick days are more important than ever. We need to do more to highlight the real-world effects of our nation’s failure to adopt paid sick days on these communities. We’re excited to see the results of important research the Women of Color Policy Network is doing on this issue.
We face a lot of challenges, but we must continue the fight for economic security and justice for all American families.