Work-life balance is often thought of in terms of flexible hours, telecommuting, and other important ways to modify the work place to make it more amenable to working women and men. Sometimes overlooked are the jobs in which low-wage workers tend to be concentrated – for example, the restaurant industry, service industry, and home care. Many of these jobs do not offer paid time off when workers or their families are ill. Often, these workers have fewer options for job flexibility, making the need for paid sick days legislation even more important.
More and more businesses are realizing supporting paid sick day legislation is the right thing to do. Case in point – the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC). The USWCC was a leader in the health care reform and financial reform legislation. It joins the growing number of local chambers of commerce who are going against the characteristic position of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and supporting paid sick days.
The USWCC understands that paid sick days are good for business and that often women-owned businesses are uniquely situated to support paid sick days. It recently posted a white paper by CLASP, noting that "paid sick days are an investment in our families, our workforce, and our health that we cannot afford to do without."
Despite the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to most any regulation of business, employer support for key issues facing the country is not new. In fact, the most recent legislative battles have been supported by businesses nationwide. For example:
• Financial reform: A list of over 200 business signatories supported the creation of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
• Minimum wage: A list of nearly 1,000 businesses signed on in support of increasing the minimum wage.
• Health care reform: Numerous small businesses supported health care reform and shared their stories here.
It is not surprising that the USWCC’s position differs from that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who has come under increasing criticism recently for its unfriendly views towards women’s issues.
Thus far, the USWCC and others have been on the winning side of the issues. Despite spending about $150 million dollars since Obama took office, the U.S. Chamber unsuccessfully lobbied against the health reform bill and the financial reform bill. With growing support from businesses of all sizes, the next step: paid sick days?