My heart sunk when I got the call from school telling me that Charlie, my 2nd grader, was in the nurse's office with the pukes. I quickly made arrangements with my supervisor to use paid sick time that afternoon and headed home to care for my child.
While I had to reschedule a couple of meetings, I didn't have to worry for a minute about losing pay or being punished for my time away from work.
Some say I'm "lucky" that my job provides this type of flexibility. But basic standards, like paid sick time, shouldn't be left up to luck or to individual employers. There should be a fair and level playing field for everyone, which means passing laws that guarantee everyone a basic set of protections against lost pay through approaches like paid sick days.
There are many reasons why now is the time to guarantee paid sick time for all workers in the United States:
Nearly four in 10 private sector workers—and more than 80 percent of low-wage workers—do not have paid sick days to care for their own health. That means that at least 43 million working people have no access to a single paid sick day, and millions more cannot earn paid sick time they can use to care for a family member.
Workers without paid sick days are 1.5 times more likely than those with paid sick days to report going to work with contagious illnesses like the flu or a viral infection—and risk infecting others. More than three in four food service and hotel workers (78 percent) don’t have a single paid sick day—and workers in child care centers and nursing homes overwhelmingly lack paid sick days. The threat to public health is clear.
Without paid sick time, staying home isn’t something all working people can afford to do. Sadly, too many workers face the impossible choice everyday between their health and their jobs. For a low-income family, just a few days without wages is equivalent to losing a month's groceries.
It seems obvious: everyone deserves the chance to take care of themselves and their families, and no one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck.
The good news is that there is growing momentum throughout the United States for laws guaranteeing that workers can earn a minimum amount of paid sick time. Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon have passed earned sick time statutes. More than 20 cities and counties— including Minneapolis, San Francisco, NYC, Portland, and Washington D.C.— have passed earned sick time laws.
If you live in the Second City like me, and want to make it number #1, you can take action today to help pass paid sick time legislation in Chicago.
Let's get this done. Support earned sick time for every Chicago worker. Chicagoans voted for it. The Mayor's Working Families Task Force recommended it. Now it's time to pass it.
Make your voice heard. Visit sicktimechicago.org to sign the petition, call your alderman, and spread the word on social media!
And whoever said that fighting for paid sick time can't be fun? What do Bart Simpson, Minions, and Monsters Inc. have to do with earned sick time? Check out Women Employed's new listicle: 12 Things You Should Know About Earned Sick Time to find out. Once you've confirmed you're in the know, please share the listicle with your friends and family on social media to arm them with the facts about earned sick time.