Dying For Work?Posted March 12th, 2013 by Ruth Martin
Last July, Felix Trinidad died after working for months with cancer. He wasn’t able to earn paid sick days and he was so worried about losing pay or possibly even his job – and his ability to support his wife and two small children – that he put off going to the doctor until it was too late: His cancer was so advanced that there was no chance of recovery.
Felix is far from alone. In the United States, nearly 40% of private sector workers, including 80% of low-wage workers, are unable to earn even a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a sick family member.
This is not okay.
We can change this! The Healthy Families Act, which is being reintroduced in Congress next week, would set an important national standard for paid sick days by allowing people to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. Its passage would be a critical step toward meeting the health and financial needs of working families.
Send a quick message to your members of Congress urging them to support and co-sponsor the Healthy Families Act for your family, for our national economy, and for Felix.
Click here: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/HFA_2013/
Why are earned sick days so important?
It’s pretty obvious why paid sick days are good for public health: They help contain health care costs through prevention, early detection, and treatment of illness. With paid sick days, families will not be forced to send sick children to school where they will likely infect classmates and teachers. Workers with paid sick days would not spread illness to their coworkers and customers.
Somewhat less obvious, but equally true, is that providing paid sick days turns out to be smart business, too. Research shows that the costs of replacing workers, including advertising for, interviewing and training new employees often far outweigh the cost of retaining employees by offering paid sick days.
Additionally, ”presenteeism”, when workers come to work sick, costs the national economy about $160 billion - that’s a billion with a “b” – a year in lost productivity versus absenteeism.
State and local legislatures get it. Right now there are efforts underway in states and cities across the country to implement earned sick days standards. But access to earned sick days shouldn’t just be a matter of geography.
The Healthy Families Act sets an important national workplace standard the following ways:
- Allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illness, access preventive care, or provide care for a sick family member.
- Allow workers who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use their paid sick days to recover or seek assistance related to an incident.
- Include a simple method for calculating accrued sick time. Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours (seven days) per year.
- Allow employers to continue using their existing policies, as long as they meet the minimums set forth in the Healthy Families Act (for time, types of use, and method of use).
**We need to make sure that our elected officials know their support of paid sick days is important to us. Urge your member of Congress to support and co-sponsor the Healthy Families Act:
And don’t forget to pass this on to your friends and family so they can take action too. Posting the link above to your Facebook page is a great way to help grow the MOMentum for paid sick days!
P.S. BIG NEWS! Want to hear a lively conversation about paid sick days? We have a treat for you here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537 (scroll down for episode number 9). This “MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner” show focuses on a lively conversation about paid sick days, or the lack there of, with spectacular guests. There are terrific guests including: Adriana Kugler, former chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor; Makini Howell, a business owner who advocates for paid sick days; Marianne Bullock, a mom who was fired when her daughter got sick; Wendy Chun-Hoon, a policy expert from Family Values at Work; and Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. The guests are great!