Skip to main content
Ruth Martin's picture
I'm a mom of two small kids. So germs, coughs, colds, viruses and I are all on a first name basis ("Well, hello there, RSV. I'd hoped to miss you this time around!"). And I've developed a routine for dealing with all manner of ailments whether they be child or adult-sized: Break out the humidifiers, up the OJ intake, stock up on saline, disinfect the house, clean the sheets, cross my fingers. Then petition Congress for paid sick days.

What? Yes. It’s true. Every time there is a whiff of a bug at this house I find time to contact my members of Congress and urge them to pass the Healthy Families Act. Every sniffle is a reminder that nearly 40 percent of private sector workers – and more than eight in 10 of the lowest-income workers – lack access to even a single paid sick day when they are ill. [1] And in this economy, you can bet that folks are going to work sick, or sending their kids to school sick – rather than risk losing a day’s pay or even losing their job.

*Try it for yourself:  With one click your name will be added to a petition calling on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act because it’s not okay for families to be one virus away from losing income or becoming unemployed!

Take Action!

And that click of your mouse is important.  When 40 million Americans lack even a single paid sick day, that is a big problem for the health of our families and for the health of our economy.

Paid sick days are good for the economy?

Yes! 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. [2] Additionally, presenteeism, when workers come to work sick, costs the national economy about $160 billion a year in lost productivity versus absenteeism.  [3]

The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) would set an important national standard for paid sick days. [4] 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)

Our nation is a nation of neighbors helping each other--and we can't let families down when they're already struggling.  After all, the true measure of our success is the well being of American families, not just corporate profits.*Join me in keeping up the vigil for earned sick days! Add contacting Congress to your routine for warding off illnesses and feeling better quickly. With one click you can sign a petition urge your members of Congress to pass and support the Healthy Families Act.:

And don’t forget to pass this 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.  What do YOU do when faced with the possibility of sick kids, or getting sick yourself? If worst comes to worst, are you able to take paid sick days or not? If yes, how has that helped? If no, how has that hurt? We want to know! Click here!

[1] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011, July). Employee Benefits in the United States: Selected paid leave benefits: Access, National Compensation Survey (Table 6)

[2] Christine Siegwarth Meyer, et al, Work-Family Benefits: Which Ones Maximize Profits?, Journal of Managerial Issues, vol. 13, no. 1, Spring 2001

[3]Stewart, W. et al. (2003, December). Lost Productive Health Time Costs from Health Conditions in the United States: Results from the American Productivity Audit Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 45.

[4] The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984)

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!