Nearly a million workers in New York City do not have a single paid sick day, including most employees of the food service industry and most low-wage workers. “New York City will benefit significantly when lawmakers put a strong paid sick days law in place,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “This law would help workers, families, employers and the public health, and help build momentum for the minimum standard of paid sick days our country urgently needs.”
Ness commended the work of New York City paid sick days leaders: A Better Balance; the New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition; and the Working Families Party.
Workers without paid sick days often face the prospect of coming to work sick, and exposing others to contagion, because they cannot afford to lose a day’s pay — or risk losing their jobs. “With public health officials estimating more than one million H1N1 cases in the U.S. as of June 2009, and a second wave of the H1N1 flu expected in the fall, the issue of paid sick days has taken on particular urgency,” Ness added. “Top government and public health officials continue to encourage workers to stay home when they are sick and to keep sick children at home. Without paid sick days, many workers simply cannot do so or they will be unable to pay rent, put food on the table, or care for their families.”
San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee have passed paid sick days laws. Legislation to guarantee workers a minimum standard of paid sick days is pending in approximately a dozen states.
Nationally, the Healthy Families Act would establish a minimum standard of paid sick days for the nation, allowing workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. It is currently being considered by both the House and Senate.
A poll commissioned by the Public Welfare Foundation last year found that one in six workers say they or a family member has been fired, suspended, punished or threatened by an employer because they needed to take a sick day for themselves or a family member. Survey after survey finds overwhelming public support for paid sick days.
More information on the issue is available at http://www.paidsickdays.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.