California has long led the way in establishing family friendly workplace policies, from enacting the nation's first paid leave program in 2002, to the nation's first citywide paid sick days law in San Francisco in 2007.
Last week, the state legislature made further history by passing a bill that would allow around 6.5 million additional California workers to earn paid sick days. The bill's next stop is Governor Jerry Brown's desk and the great news is that he has already voiced his support for the bill!
"This bill guarantees that millions of workers -- from Eureka to San Deigo -- won't lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick," he said in a statement.
We all get sick, but according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 44% of Californians, and 77% of full-time workers in the lowest earning bracket (less than $15,000), do not have access to a single paid sick day. When workers don't have access to paid sick days, they are forced to go to work sick and send their kids to school sick, or risk losing a paycheck or sometimes even their job. We simply cannot afford this. Families, communities, public health, and local economies are stronger when hardworking families have access to paid sick days.
While we are very excited about this important victory, there is more work to be done. This new law excludes 300,000 to 400,000 home healthcare workers, which are disproportionately women paid low wages. These workers providing healthcare services to the elderly and ill deserve basic workplace protections like paid sick days.
We must also remember that if signed into law, this California bill would only be the nation's second statewide paid sick days law. A nationwide paid sick days bill, The Healthy Families Act, is before Congress. Urge them to take swift action on this important legislation upon returning from August recess: http://action.momsrising.org/sign/HFA_2013/
Families and workers across the nation need paid sick days!