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Got the flu? Let’s hope not.  But if you do, here’s hoping your employer provides paid sick days.  You need them for yourself.  You also need them so you can protect your co-workers and the public from catching the flu from you.

During the recent swine flu outbreak 8 million sick workers showed up on the job, spreading the flu to 7 million others.  Got the flu?  Stay home!  That’s the advice of public health experts, such as Dr. Barbara Ferrer of the Boston Public Health Commission.

But what if you can’t stay home?  What if you’re among the almost 1 million workers in Massachusetts without access to a single paid sick day?  The questions for these workers multiply:  Can I afford to lose a day’s pay?  What if I end up losing my job?  How will I buy groceries?  How will I pay the rent?

Over half a million workers in Massachusetts who lack access to a single paid sick day also earn less than $25,000 a year.  That’s right!  The workers in Massachusetts least able to afford to take time off from work to recuperate are among the most likely to lack paid sick days, and work in jobs that place them in contact with the public as food servers, day care providers or caring for frail elders in hospitals and nursing homes.

Are you sick yet?  I hope not, but you may be soon – unless Massachusetts lawmakers tackle this urgent public health issue by adopting the Paid Sick Days Act.

Please visit the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition to learn more about how you can help pass the Paid Sick Days Act for all workers in Massachusetts.

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