National Partnership for Women & Families

Milwaukee Becomes Third City in U.S. to Guarantee Paid Sick Days

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — November 5, 2008 —
“Today is an historic day for working families in Milwaukee because, by an overwhelming majority, voters there passed a ballot measure yesterday that will guarantee a minimum standard of paid sick days to every worker in the city.  We congratulate our partners, the Paid Sick Days Milwaukee Coalition and 9to5, National Association of Working Women, and all the allies who worked tirelessly to make this possible.  Milwaukee’s new law is good for workers as well as businesses, good for families, good for the public health, and good for the city. 

Milwaukee is now the third city, after San Francisco and the District of Columbia, to guarantee workers paid time away from work to treat an illness or care for a sick child.  It surely will not be the last.  We expect many more cities and states to adopt similar measures, and Congress to consider federal paid sick days legislation, the Healthy Families Act, next year.

The new law covers all private employers in the city.  It lets workers earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, giving full-time employees at large businesses nine paid sick days each year.  Smaller businesses with fewer than ten employees will provide full-time employees with five paid sick days each year.  Employees cannot use the leave until they have been at their job for 90 days.  Milwaukee’s new law also guarantees paid “safe” days, so those dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault can take time off for violence-related court appearances or other services. 

Milwaukee’s new law is patterned after one adopted by San Francisco voters in 2006.  Even those who once opposed San Francisco’s measure now acknowledge that it is working well.  The District of Columbia’s paid sick and safe days law is about to take effect.

Nationwide, nearly half of private sector workers have no paid sick days, and more than three in four have no paid sick days they can use to care for a sick child.  The problem is especially acute for low-income workers, many of whom work in food service, child care, health care, retail and other fields that put them in frequent contact with the public.”

Contact

Cindy Romero (202) 986-2600 cromero@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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