National Partnership for Women & Families

Momentum Builds for Paid Sick Days from Coast to Coast

On Heels of Overwhelming Passage of San Francisco Ballot Initiative, New Survey In New York City Finds Broad Support for Giving All Workers Paid Sick Days
Washington, D.C. — November 21, 2006 —
The National Partnership for Women & Families, the nation’s leading expert on work/family issues, today hailed a new survey of New York City residents as crucially important data that should remind every city, state and federal lawmaker that Americans want every worker to have paid sick days.

The new survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Community Service Society, comes on the heels of a huge victory in San Francisco earlier this month, when 61 percent of voters approved a ballot initiative that gives up to nine days of paid sick leave per year to fulltime workers and up to five days for those employed by small businesses. The new survey, of 1,230 lower-income New York City residents and 500 moderate- and higher-income New Yorkers, with an oversample of immigrants, found that:

  • 65% of New York City’s working poor have no paid sick days. Workers at small firms and
    those with the lowest income are least likely to have any paid sick days.
  • Most low-income working mothers have no paid sick days.
  • There has been no significant gain in paid sick days for lower-income New York City
    workers in the past five years.
  • Many low-income workers have almost no savings with which to cover for lost pay if they
    need to take time off to recover from an illness or care for a sick child or family member.
  • Seven of ten New Yorkers across incomes say it’s time to make paid sick leave a right for
    all workers.

“Earlier this month, San Francisco gave a resounding ‘yes’ to a paid sick days measure,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “We look for many more victories in months ahead, and hope New York City will help lead the way. The groundbreaking work of Community Service Society makes progress in the city much more likely; low-income workers in New York are fortunate to have such a dedicated organization working on their behalf.”

“Paid sick days are the next frontier in the effort to make America’s workplaces more family friendly,” Ness continued. “Everyone gets sick, but not everyone has time to get better. Nearly half of private sector workers in this country do not have a single paid sick day, and 86 million people do not have a paid sick day that can be used to care for a sick child. Low-wage workers are especially hard hit, with three in four without any paid sick days. As a result, half of working mothers report that they must miss work and often go without pay when caring for a sick child.Providing paid sick days isn’t just good for workers and families. It benefits employers by reducing turnover, improving productivity and increasing morale, which leads to employee retention. If American workers had just seven paid sick days a year, experts estimate that we would save $8.2 billion per year.”

At the federal level, the National Partnership is supporting the Healthy Families Act, introduced by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) in this session and expected to be reintroduced early next year. It requires all employers with at least 15 employees to provide seven days of paid sick leave annually for full-time employees. Leave can be used to meet an employee’s own medical needs or to allow an employee to care for the medical needs of a family member. Employers are encouraged to provide greater leave benefits, but are not required to modify existing paid leave policies if they meet minimum standards.

The New York City survey findings on paid sick days are from The Unheard Third 2006, an annual survey created by CSS’s policy research team under the leadership of Nancy Rankin. For additional findings and analysis of the views of low-income New Yorkers, go to www.cssny.org/research/unheardthird/.

For 160 years, the Community Service Society has been the leading voice on behalf of low income New Yorkers and continues to advocate for the economic security of the working poor in the nation’s largest city.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@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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