Fever, Nausea and the Chills - But We Still Need to Pay the Bills!
September 8, 2009
MomsRising Visits Congress to Tell Senators, Representatives that Paid Sick Days Are Essential to Public Health
Healthcare and medical experts are predicting that the H1N1 flu will pose a serious health threat this fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that employees who get the flu stay home from work and that parents keep sick children at home, to avoid a serious public health problem Unfortunately, too many parents will face financial hardship if they try to take time off to stay home sick or care for sick children because they do not have paid sick days.
To bring this message home and encourage Congress to pass paid sick days legislation, MomsRising.org Campaign Directors Katie Bethell and Dionna Humphrey are visiting Members of Congress today to share parents' concerns about H1N1 preparedness and educate them about how important paid sick days are to preventing the spread of the H1N1 flu. MomsRising is an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization with more than one million members who are working to make our nation and our workplaces more family-friendly.
Bethell and Humphrey will deliver to Congress the results of a questionnaire about H1N1 and overall flu preparedness that was sent to parents around the country. More than half of the respondents said that they have gone to work sick because they would face economic hardship had they taken time off due to illness. The report also includes powerful personal stories and messages from mothers and others who face this challenge every day, as parents, teachers, business owners, and healthcare workers.
Cindy, in Maryland, wrote: I am an HR Manager and the company for which I work does not allow for any paid sick days. I have seen employees come to work too sick to have even driven to work; I've seen employees suffer knowing that their child is home sick and she can't be there; I've seen colds, flu and viruses spread throughout the offices because employees cannot afford to take off time without pay.
And Erin, in Wisconsin wrote: Since I work with pediatric patients, every day I see kids who are left alone, scared, in the hospital, because their parents aren't granted sick days and they fear missing work to lose insurance; or if they lack that, they fear losing their job and being unable to afford the care that their child's life depends on... Particularly in this era, where diseases like H1N1 are spread rampantly, when people do not stay home (despite CDC recommendations), because of fear of job loss or lack of pay due to no sick day benefits, it becomes imperative that paid sick days are granted to all working people.
According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, only about half of private sector workers have paid sick days. Among workers who are in jobs that involve greater interaction with the public, including child care workers, restaurant employees, and home health providers, that number is even lower. More than half (55 percent) of retail workers and more than three-fourths (78 percent) of accommodations and food service workers have no paid sick days.
“According to the CDC one of the best ways to prevent spreading disease is to stay home when you're sick,” said MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “But millions of people just can't do that. If they stay home when they are sick, or stay home to care for sick child, they risk losing a day’s pay or even their jobs. We need paid sick days in this country to help ensure families’ economic security. Parents should not be forced to choose between staying home when they’re sick or to care for a sick child and earning a paycheck.”