When a Stork Visited CongressPosted July 11th, 2012 by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and Ruth Martin
The sun is out, children are splashing in pools, and people are, er… getting sick.
That’s right. Everyone gets sick at some point in their lives from a cold, to a cough, or even worse. But did you know that not everyone has a chance to get better?
A whopping 40 million people in the United States don’t have access to a single paid sick day. In fact, nearly 80% of low wage workers and 40% of private sector workers don’t have access to a single paid sick day. And this means that many people have little choice but to go to work sick–rather than staying home to get better and risk losing a day’s pay or even losing their job. 
It doesn’t have to be this way. One study estimates that if there had been a national paid sick days policy in place in 2009, 5 million (!!!) cases of the flu could have been avoided during the H1N1 pandemic. 
*Tell Congress: Paid sick days are critical for American families’ economic security. It’s not okay for families to be one virus away from losing income or becoming unemployed. We need you to support and pass the Healthy Families Act:
Now, to the question you’ve been waiting to ask: What’s with the stork picture?! Well, we at MomsRising take the delivery of your signature to Congress very seriously. For example, this week we did a special delivery of petition
signatures along with stuffed delivery storks! We’ll be collecting your signatures on this open letter over the next several weeks and then delivering them directly to Congress as well.
Why are paid sick days so important, anyway?
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 outweighs the cost of retaining employees by offering paid sick days.  Additionally, presenteeism, when workers come to work sick, costs the nationally economy about $160 billion a year in lost productivity versus absenteeism. 
The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) would set an important national standard for paid sick days. Its passage would be a critical step toward meeting the health and financial needs of working families.
The Healthy Families Act would:
- 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, unless the employer selects a higher limit.
- Allow employers to require certification if an employee uses more than three paid sick days in a row. For victims of domestic violence, the certification may be from a law enforcement officer or victim advocate.
- 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 that support of paid sick days is important to us.
*Urge your member of Congress to pass and support the Healthy Families Act:
And don’t forget to pass this blogpost 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 day? We have a treat for you here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537 The “MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner” show this week focuses on a lively conversation about paid sick days, or the lack there of, with spectacular guests. There are terrific guests this week, including: Adriana Kugler, 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 Council-member Nick Licata. The guests are great!
*Here’s a link to hear this show for free on iTunes anytime: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537
FYI: You can now listen every week to MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner–a fun, feisty, and relevant radio show–on podcasts/iTunes or airing live in the D.C. metropolitan area each Sunday at 12pmPST/3pmEST on 1480 AM, and anytime via a podcast online. Each week, MomsRising Radio with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner features inspirational moms, experts, and elected leaders as we talk about the hottest topics facing women and families across our country. Check in each week, or even subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes, here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/moms-rising-radio/id533519537