A new study from The Institute of Women’s Policy Research shows that although coverage of paid sick days has gone up (57% in 2009 to 61% in 2012), there are still 41 million American workers that cannot earn paid time off to use when they or a loved one are sick.
The study also identifies that Hispanics are less likely than white, Asian, or black workers to have access to paid sick days. Overall, less than half of Hispanic workers over the age of 18 are granted the right to paid time off for an illness. Hispanics are over represented in industries that are less likely to receive sick pay, which leads to their ethnicity having the least coverage.
Consistent with what other studies have shown, most people working in the public sector are still not covered, which causes a public health concern. Only 24% of Food Service Workers and 31% of workers in Personal Care and Service occupations have access to paid sick days.
Those that work full-time (35+ hours per week) are at an advantage with 70% earning sick pay. Workers that are averaging 20-34 hours per week are only at 26%, and those working less that 20 hours are even less likely to have the benefit (approximately 10%).
Read the findings in the report: Paid Sick Days Access in the United States: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Occupation, Earnings, and Work Schedule by Claudia Williams, Barbara Gault, Ph.D. (March 2014)
Originally posted on Fortune Management & Career Blog:
New York City recently joined a growing roster of cities to guarantee workers paid sick days. Still, some 40 million American workers still have to make the choice between going to work sick and missing out on pay.
FORTUNE — The New York City Council on Wednesday voted 46-5 on a bill to expand the city’s paid sick leave, guaranteeing that 1.2 million workers can call in sick without losing pay.
I am a full-time student, and I work part time in the service industry, where no paid sick days are offered. It seems to be a trend in the service industry to have no benefits, especially for part-time workers. I continuously witness co-workers coming to work sick because otherwise they will not be paid for that shift. I have also seen workers physically sick, throwing up at work because they could not leave in the middle of a shift. This not only hurts the sick worker, but it can also make anyone they come in contact with sick, including customers. Who wants sick people handling the food you are about to eat? I cannot imagine there is anyone out there who is OK with that.
It seems to be part of the culture of the growing service industry that paid sick days are not included — in fact it is pretty much a given they will not be. We must change this culture of workplaces to assure that every worker has the right to work with dignity and is able to take care of themselves and their families when they are sick.
I am one of millions of part-time workers who do not receive benefits, but part-time workers are still dedicated workers and must be included in the paid sick days bill. Employers find incentives in hiring part-time workers so they will not have to provide benefits. We must not allow these incentives to exist. Every person has a right to health, and every worker deserves to work with dignity. Paid sick days is just one important step to reaching our goal of creating a system that offers universal health care, the right to work with dignity, and one that puts people first.
Last Tuesday, Mayor Strickland appeared on PBS following the President’s State of the Union address. The Mayor shared her thoughts on the President’s remarks, including his call to action for mayors and cities to lead where state and federal government has failed. The Mayor’s appearance was outlined in The News Tribune. In response, Healthy Tacoma delivered a letter to the Mayor asking for her support on paid sick days.
Dear Mayor Strickland:
The Healthy Tacoma Coalition would like to congratulate you on your recent appearance in PBS’s post-State of the Union special.
We applaud your strong statements in support of working families and the importance of public policy in building family economic security, including minimum wage standards and the Affordable Care Act. As you stated, ”It’s a thriving middle class with the power to spend that helps businesses,” and “the best thing that we can do for business is to give them consumers with spending power.”
You noted that more than 320,000 people in Washington state now have health care thanks to the ACA, and “having access to [health care] can be the difference between going to a hospital and getting help, or possibly going bankrupt.”
However, 40,000 workers in Tacoma may find it challenging to take full advantage of their new coverage because they lack paid sick and safe days, and they cannot afford to take time off to see the doctor.
Unfortunately, it is typically workers with the lowest earnings – including many working parents – who also lack paid sick leave. For people earning the minimum wage, keeping up with rising costs is hard enough. Paid sick and safe days will lessen the social and economic injustice being wrought on low-income families in Tacoma and across the country. No one should be forced into the indignity of choosing between staying home with a sick child or putting food on the table for that child.
Paid sick and safe leave strengthens the economic security of Tacoma’s working families, and ensures that local dollars are being kept in local businesses.
We cannot wait for the state or federal government to act. We urge you to stand in support of Tacoma’s working people and pass the sick and safe leave ordinance. It is the right thing to do for our city.
Healthy Tacoma Coalition
Miami, Florida – Yesterday the Miami-Dade County Commission – the 8th largest county in the country – unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson (District 3) that urged Congress to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act of 2013 (FAMILY Act).
The FAMILY Act was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 12, 2013. The bill would create a social insurance fund to allow people to receive a portion of their pay when they need time away from their jobs for family or medical reasons – resulting in significant benefits for their families, businesses and our economy. Specifically, the bill would provide workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a personal serious illness, an illness of a child, parent or spouse and the birth or adoption of a child, among others. Workers and employers would each contribute a very small portion of their wages to this insurance program; the self-sustaining fund would mean workers could receive up to 66 percent of their wages while on leave.
“People want to be good parents to their children and good children to their parents, and they also want to have a job and succeed at it,” said Kit Rafferty, Executive Director, South Florida Voices for Working Families. “If you take one away from the other, families, businesses and the economy pay the price. For most people, losing pay to meet personal or family health needs means struggling to afford even the most basic necessities, which hurts the businesses that depend on revenue from purchases and the growth of our economy.”
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been a tremendous help to families, but too many people today cannot afford to take unpaid leave. FMLA leaves out 40 percent of the workforce and guarantees only unpaid leave, which millions cannot afford. Currently only 11 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through their employers and fewer than 40 percent have personal medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability programs. That means millions of workers who develop serious health conditions, have seriously ill family members or become parents, are forced to choose between what is best for them and their families and income they need to cover basic expenses.
In 2002, California became the first state to pass a Paid Family Leave Program (PFL), followed in 2009 by New Jersey. The programs have been enormously successful with 1.4 million claims filed in California and 100,000 filed in New Jersey since their implementation, and high levels of support among business owner and workers. Now Rhode Island has joined them with a precedent-setting law that protects the jobs of all workers who need to use the fund. In Washington State, a paid leave program awaits funding. New York State is the next state likely to pass a family leave insurance program. Connecticut and several other states are laying the groundwork for similar legislation.
The Miami-Dade County Commission was the first county in the country to pass a Family Medical Leave Act policy prior to the 1993 federal bill signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
“I am honored to be part of an institution that places the needs of people, especially their employees first,” said Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner (District 3). “As a public servant in a local government that was the first in this nation to create policy that ensures the support of family in times of medical need, it gives me a great sense of real accomplishment. Miami-Dade County will continue to be forward thinking on behalf of its residents and employees and encourages members of Congress to pass laws that allow working families the protections needed by them during tenuous times.”
The Miami-Dade County Commission for Women also supports the FAMILY Act because of its great value for women and children in our community. This is smart public policy that will ultimately lead to a more stable and productive workforce. It would also demonstrate that the United States backs up the ‘family friendly’ rhetoric with positive concrete action,” said Michelle Dunaj Lucking, Esq., Chair of the Miami-Dade Commission for Women.
There is also broad support among the business community for paid family and medical leave programs because businesses understand it’s good for their bottom line. California employers report that the program has had a neutral or positive effect on employee productivity, profitability and turnover, and most employers coordinate their own benefits with the state’s PFL program. A 2011 study of California’s FMLI program estimated that it would save employers $89 million a year. A recent Rutgers study shows that New Jersey’s FMLI program has saved businesses money by improving employee retention, decreasing turnover costs and improving productivity.
The Miami-Dade County Commission resolution is extremely timely given the recent release of the Shriver Report “A Women’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” – a study conducted by Maria Shiver in partnership with the Center for American Progress. The study is a series of conversations about women and economic security and shows that millions of women are barely scraping by despite working hard as breadwinners and caregivers. Of all of its recommendations, the report identifies paid leave as the number one policy women need to improve their economic stability. According to the report, “an overwhelming 96% of single moms in our poll say paid leave is the workplace policy that would help them most.”
The Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces is a member of Family Values@Work, a network of 21 state coalitions working to pass policies that value families at work like affordable family leave. The Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, 58 organizations strong, includes community groups, labor unions, religious leaders and worker rights’ organizations.
DC has successfully expanded their paid sick days law to include tipped workers, as well as allowing accrual of paid time to begin immediately. In 2008 DC passed the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act and it was a huge step forward for workers in the city. However, the Act had many exemptions and left out roughly 20,000 tipped restaurant and bar workers. With this expansion to the Act all workers will be able to take time off when they need it the most without having to worry about losing a day’s pay. Debra Ness, President of National Partnership for Women & Families, put out a statement describing the big win for the DC campaign:
“By voting unanimously to strengthen D.C.’s paid sick days law to cover more workers, the D.C. City Council has shown its commitment to making the District more family friendly, supporting local businesses, and strengthening the economy. This is a good day for the District and Mayor Gray can make it even better by signing the bill into law right away.
The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act would amend the District’s existing law to enable tipped restaurant and bar workers to earn up to five paid sick days per year. These workers had been excluded from the law, despite obvious harmful consequences for public health. It will also allow all workers to accrue paid sick days immediately and begin using them after 90 days on the job, eliminating the requirement that they be at a job for one year and 1,000 hours.
We learned this summer that D.C.’s paid sick days law has been a big success, but it left too many workers behind, unable to earn the paid sick time they need. The bill the Council advanced today would fix that, allowing an additional 20,000 workers to earn the paid sick days they need to protect their own health and the health of their families and communities, without sacrificing their financial security.
It is also great news for the District that the Council passed an overdue increase in the minimum wage. This is a major victory for low-wage workers in one of the country’s most expensive places to live. We urge the Council to prioritize an increase in the tipped minimum wage, which is urgently needed as well.
We commend the skilled and dedicated Paid Sick Days for All coalition and all Council members who are committed to realizing the full promise of the District’s paid sick days law. Today’s action adds to the momentum for paid sick days and other family friendly policies that built throughout the country this year. We look forward to adding this victory for D.C.’s working families to the list.”
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — December 17, 2013 —
On December 13th nearly 50 protesters gathered at the Kent courthouse to demonstrate against the lawsuit filed by Alaska Airlines against Proposition 1 in SeaTac, WA. Proposition 1 would increase SeaTac’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and give paid sick time to laborers, among other worker benefits. The proposition passed with a 77 vote lead and has sparked support all over the country. Alaska Airlines with other big businesses, under the name “Common Sense SeaTac”, are opposed to the wage increase, although it would stimulate the economy and provide a living wage for more than thousands of airport workers.
The lawsuit was brought in front of a judge on Friday and concluded with no final verdict. The judge is said to have a decision by the end of this week or after Christmas as to whether the initiative will be upheld. Either way the judge fairs, both sides are set to appeal.
Watch this video covering Friday’s rally in Kent over the $15 wage.
We support Prop 1 because it will ensure the health and safety, as well as economic security, of working families.
- Prop 1 provides up to 6.5 days of paid sick leave for full-time airport employees, preventing the spread of dangerous disease and keeping families and the community safe.
- Prop 1 encourages airport-related businesses to employ full-time workers, creating jobs our neighbors can count on.
- Prop 1 ensures that SeaTac residents employed at and around the airport can receive a living wage of $15 helping them make ends meet.
- It’s estimated that Proposition 1 will create 412 new jobs , with millions of additional dollars pumped into SeaTac’s struggling economy.
Find out more about SeaTac’s Prop 1: http://yesforseatac.com/