A new analysis released today by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Latino Workers and Their Families Need Paid Sick Days (Spanish), shows that Latino workers and their families suffer when they lack basic workplace protections like paid sick time. Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the United States’ workforce, yet nearly 12 million Latino workers — 60 percent of the Latino workforce — don’t have a single paid sick day to use to recover from common illnesses.
"Every day, hardworking Latinos across the country are being forced to choose between their health and their ability to provide for their families because they lack paid sick days," said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "This analysis shows the very real impact of this problem. By enacting common sense policies that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days, lawmakers and employers could help to alleviate the strain on millions of Latino families while protecting their health and the health of our communities."
According to the new fact sheet, Latino workers participate in the labor force at a higher rate than any racial or ethnic group, but they are more likely to work in occupations in which workers do not have paid sick days — food preparation and serving, construction and personal care. This is particularly dangerous because workers in these occupations have frequent contact with the public. The consequences of failure to provide paid sick time for these workers — to the health of the workers themselves and the public — are clear. For those who are paid low wages, these consequences can be even more severe.
Yesterday, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) — the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. — released a collection of personal stories that chronicles the experiences of Latino, immigrant and other workers in the low-wage labor market. We Needed the Work: Latino Worker Voices in the New Economy offers a glimpse of the conditions that millions of low-wage workers face every day, including chronic pain when workers in physically exhausting jobs are unable to take time off to recover from illness.
"The powerful words of these hardworking Latinos attest to the urgency of reforming the low-wage labor market" said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation. "The stories of these few individuals illustrate conditions that are rampant in the low-wage labor market and affect millions workers across the country. These stories are a sign that there are cracks in the systems meant to protect workers. And our nation must restore basic dignity and respect for the millions of American workers who are the foundation of our economy."
Lawmakers in several major cities are working to ensure workers have the right to earn paid sick days. San Francisco and the District of Columbia have successfully implemented paid sick days laws. Legislation to guarantee workers a minimum standard of paid sick days is advancing in Philadelphia. This month, advocates in Denver announced a paid sick days ballot initiative, and advocates in Seattle launched a campaign in support of a paid sick days bill. New York City’s paid sick days bill has strong support in the City Council and will continue to be a key political issue. Seven state legislatures are considering paid sick days legislation this year.
At the federal level, the Healthy Families Act was re-introduced in Congress this month. It would allow workers at businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven paid sick days per year, to be used to address their own short-term medical needs, such as the flu, or the needs of their families. It includes pro-rated leave for part-time workers, and sick days can be used for medical appointments, preventative or diagnostic treatment; and to care for a family member with comparable needs. The bill includes a paid safe days provision to allow workers to use paid sick days to address domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
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.