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Imagine going to work with the flu. How about having a toddler with an ear infection? When a child in Washington, D.C. gets sick, she may not make it to a doctor if her parent is a waiter or a waitress. It isn’t because the parent is neglectful. Despite a paid sick days law passed two years ago in the District of Columbia, tipped restaurant employees are not afforded paid time off when they are sick or when they need to care for a sick family member. This means many families are in the tough position of having to decide between a paycheck and seeking care when ill.

Now residents of D.C. can have their say. An exciting new campaign gives consumers the power to put their money where their mouths are.

Voting begins today to determine which Washington, D.C. restaurant will win the first “Carrotmob” in support of paid sick days, a campaign spearheaded by The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington, D.C. and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. CLASP is a proud sponsor of the D.C. Carrotmob campaign for paid sick days. Between October 22 and November 3, the public can vote for any of the six participating restaurants. The Carrotmob will take place on November 13.

In a Carrotmob, businesses compete to make the biggest socially-responsible change.  A network of consumers then “mobs” the winning business with spending as a reward. It’s the opposite of a boycott. Carrotmobs have occurred all over the world. This will be the first Carrotmob in D.C. and the first in support of paid sick days for all workers.

Washington was only the second city in the U.S. to pass a paid sick days law, the D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008. Under the law, employers must grant paid sick leave to their employees. The amount of time off is determined by the size of the employer and not all types of workers are covered. Employers with 100 or more employees are required to allow employees to accrue up to seven paid sick days a year.  Employers with 25-99 employees are required to allow employees to accrue up to five days paid sick days a year and businesses with 1-24 employees are required to allow employees to accrue up to three paid sick days a year. Employees can use the paid time off for illness for themselves or a family member. They may also use the days for certain reasons related to domestic violence.

Unfortunately, the current law remains little known about and under-enforced.

In addition to tipped restaurant workers, other employees not covered under the D.C. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act include independent contractors, students, and certain health care workers.

CLASP is working to implement and improve the Washington D.C. paid sick days law in conjunction with the local D.C. coalition, which is led by D.C. Employment Justice Center. The D.C. Carrotmob campaign provides members of the D.C. community a great opportunity to support paid sick days for all workers by using their consumer buying power. It’s an easy way to support an important cause, send a strong message, and get something in return.

Learn more about the D.C. Carrotmob and participating restaurants at http://dc.carrotmob.org.

If you live or work in D.C., be sure to come out and support the winner on November 13.


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