National Partnership for Women & Families

Stay Home with Swine Flu Symptoms? Not Without Paid Sick Days

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — April 28, 2009 —
“We all fervently hope that officials are able to quickly bring the swine flu outbreak under control in the United States, Mexico and around the world.  But that will happen more quickly if people can follow the advice of the health experts and government officials who are trying to contain this potential pandemic.  Unfortunately, in the United States today, too many cannot.
Yesterday, officials at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said:  ‘This is a serious event...  If you have a fever and you’re sick or your children are sick, don’t go to work and don’t go to school.’
That’s good advice but, unfortunately, nearly half of private sector workers in the United States don’t have a single paid sick day.  The same is true for nearly four in five low wage workers. And nearly 100 million workers don’t have a paid sick day they can use to care for a sick child.  For them, staying home means losing pay and, perhaps, losing their job.  In this economy, that’s a terrible choice to have to make.
We can do better by passing the Healthy Families Act, a modest bill that would let workers accrue up to seven paid sick days a year that they could use to recover from illness or care for a sick family member.  It’s simple, it’s smart, and it’s a basic workplace standard.  But in the past, the Healthy Families Act has been the subject of specious attacks by organized business interests. 
The legislation will be re-introduced shortly.  It deserves support from every Member of Congress, now more than ever.”

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

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