On Friday, Oregon’s state House passed a bill that would require most employers to offer five days of paid sick leave to their employees. If the governor signs it into law as advocates believe she will, it will be the fourth state in the country with such a requirement.
Oregon’s bill applies to businesses with 10 or more employees and allows workers to accrue an hour of sick time for every 30 they work. The leave could be used to care for a worker herself, a family member, or donate it to a coworker. An estimated 47 percent of workers in the state don’t have access to paid sick days, including more than 70 percent of low-wage workers.
After the bill passed, Jeff Anderson, chair of the Oregon Working Families Party and Secretary Treasurer for UFCW 555, said, “This has been a long time in the making, and it’s a big win for the Working Families Party, for my union, and for working families across the state.”
The bill comes after Portland passed its own requirement in 2013 and Eugene passed one last year. City and state laws across the country have picked up momentum in the past couple of years, with 2014 holding the record at 11 passed. Before Oregon’s vote, three others had been passed this year.
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According to a City of Tacoma press release, Paid Leave rules and regulations as well as a notice to employers and employees have been drafted and are available for community members to review. The City will hold the following public meetings to seek input:
April 22, 2015
5:30 – 6:30 PM
Tacoma Public Library Main Branch (Olympic Room)
1102 Tacoma Avenue S
May 14, 2015
5:30 – 6:30 PM
Wilson High School Library
1202 N Orchard Street
June 10, 2015
5:30 – 6:30 PM
Star Center (Discovery Room)
3873 S 66th Street
Following the Tacoma City Council’s vote on Tuesday, Jan. 27, Tacoma becomes the 18th city in the nation – in addition to the states of Connecticut, California and Massachusetts – to pass legislation requiring all private sector employers with one or more employees to offer paid sick and safe leave. The Council voted eight to one to pass the ordinance after passionate public testimony and deliberation that carried on into the late evening.
The ordinance requires all private sector employers with one or more employees to offer up to three days of paid leave per year, accrued at a rate of 40 hours worked to one hour paid leave earned, to all employees working in Tacoma. Accrued, but unused, paid leave will be carried over so an employee can use up to five days leave in their second year of employment. The paid leave can be used in the case of employee illness, illness of a family member or for bereavement. Importantly, the legislation also includes protections for workers experiencing stalking, domestic violence and/or sexual assault, to take paid time off in order to pursue legal protection and safety planning.
Council Member Ryan Mello led efforts for a stronger policy that would include more than three days leave, and a policy that includes all workers. “I am so proud that Tacoma has made history by passing a paid sick leave policy for all working people in our city,” he said. “More families will have greater piece of mind and our public health will be that much better. This is not a perfect policy, but it is a significant step in the right direction and I am committed to improving this over the coming year.”
Following an amendment made by Mello, all workers, including those subject to collective bargaining agreements, will be covered under the ordinance. Rulemaking will begin shortly and the ordinance will go into effect on Feb. 1, 2016.
On the impact of a paid sick leave policy in Tacoma, Mello said, “This is a key strategy to grow our economy from the middle out, not trickle down, and to help those most vulnerable in our economy or community.”
Tacoma is the first city in the nation to pass a paid sick days policy after President Barack Obama urged support of the issue in his 2015 State of the Union address.
People should not have to decide between staying home to get well and putting food on the table. It is common sense to make sure we all have the right to access paid sick days.
Tonight the Tacoma City Council passed a paid sick leave ordinance by a vote of 8-1. The ordinance improves on Mayor Strickland’s original proposal by covering all workers, including those in labor unions. “Removing the discriminatory language against workers who have a Collective Bargaining Agreement was a positive step to protect public health and families,” said Patty Rose of the Pierce County Labor Council.
However, it falls short by limiting workers to earning only 3 days of sick leave per year. That’s not enough to protect public health; many workers, and especially parents, will still be forced to choose between a paycheck and getting healthy. Council members had the opportunity to amend the proposed ordinance to allow workers to earn up to 5 paid sick days per year, but voted 6-3 to leave that portion of the ordinance unchanged.
Tacoma’s workers, business owners, faith leaders and others deserve credit for pushing the Council to consider this issue. We commend the leadership of Council members Ryan Mello, Anders Ibsen, and Victoria Woodards, who supported amendments to ensure every worker could earn up to 5 days of leave per year.
“Whether you’re caring for yourself, a child, or an aging parent, everyone gets sick, and everyone needs time to get better,” said Rose. “We look forward to working with both current and future city council members to shore up this policy.”
There’s nothing like a roomful of constituents to remind elected representatives exactly who they should be working – and voting – for. Come to meeting to show your support for a strong paid sick days ordinance that protects all of Tacoma’s workers!
TACOMA, WA | A paid sick days ordinance introduced today by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is being criticized – by local workers, health professionals, business owners, faith leaders and others – for failing to include provisions that would ensure workers can actually stay home to get well, or care for a sick child or elderly parent.
An estimated 37,500 of Tacoma’s 94,000 jobs – about 40% of the city’s total workforce – do not provide paid sick leave. Childcare workers, restaurant staff and elderly caregivers are among those least likely to have paid sick leave. And many grocery and healthcare workers face restrictions on when they can use their sick time.
A local coalition of businesses, workers, and civic, labor and faith organizations called Healthy Tacoma has been working for months for an ordinance in Tacoma, like those in 17 other cities across the nation, that would ensure all workers can earn – and use – paid sick leave on the job.
But advocates, including one Tacoma City Councilmember, say Strickland’s proposal will do little to help prevent colds, flu bugs and food-borne illness from spreading in workplaces, schools and eldercare environments. They note three main problems with the Mayor’s proposal:
- A mere 3 days of sick leave per year – meaning just one bout of the flu for a sick child would wipe out their parent’s paid sick leave. By comparison, private sector workers who have sick days get an average 8 days per year after 1 year of service.
- No carryover of accrued leave from one year to the next – so each January, right in the middle of cold and flu season, any accrued paid sick leave disappears.
- Treating union workers as second class citizens. Union workers would not get paid sick leave when everyone else does and, in some cases, would have to go years before they have the same rights as other Tacoma workers.
- Allowing employers to reprimand or penalize workers for utilizing their sick leave – providing a powerful disincentive for people to actually stay home when sick, or caring for a loved one.
Loren Cohen, owner, MC Construction Consultants, Inc.: “As a dad of three children, owner of a local development company and board member on many local non-profit organizations, I know that one common characteristic of successful businesses and organizations is they each take care of their workers and families. The City is off to a good start in thinking about this issue, but I believe Tacoma can do better. I would never discipline an employee for taking time off to care for their children or themselves when sick, and I don’t think this policy should allow that either.”
Carol Opland, LPN: “As an LPN, I see everyday what happens when people put off getting the care they need for too long, that’s why we need a strong paid sick leave policy in Tacoma: one with first day access so people don’t have to wait until their conditions get critical.”
Pastor Gregory Christopher, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance: “We commend Mayor Marilyn Strickland for her decision to propose a paid sick leave ordinance for the City of Tacoma. We urge the Mayor and the Council to do the right thing. Pass a strong, comprehensive paid sick leave law that offers more than three days a year.”
Karen Williams, worker, Safeway: “I’m a working Mom at a grocery store in Tacoma. Passing a paid sick leave law in Tacoma would be great – but 3 days of leave just isn’t enough. When my child gets sick I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay home.”
Gordon Naccarato, Owner, Pacific Grill: “As owner of multiple business, including Pacific Grill in Tacoma I have seen first-hand how an illness impacts workers, especially those who depend on their income to care for themselves and their families. The Mayor’s proposal wouldn’t be enough to adequately protect workers. At Pacific Grill we treat our employees like our own family and we want to ensure that they can thrive, so we’re rolling out our own paid sick leave policy next year. Tacoma can and should do the same, for everyone who works in our city.
Ryan Mello, Tacoma City Councilmember: “This first draft is a good starting point, but it needs improvements. Workers should be able to earn at least 7 days a year to deal with their own personal illnesses, and children and families if necessary. And working people should never be disciplined for making the responsible choice to use their hard-earned sick leave for valid reasons. I look forward to working with my colleagues on Council to improve this draft so it really does improve the lives of working people.”
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Healthy Tacoma is a coalition of more than 30 groups representing communities of color, labor, small business, civic, and faith organizations working to pass a citywide ordinance on Paid Sick Days and Safe Time for Tacoma workers and their families. Learn more at HealthyTacoma.net.
Originally posted on US Food Safety:
by Doug Powell
In the absence of paid sick days and health insurance, many food service workers show up sick.
Sonia Cohen has worked in the fast food business for the last 10 years. Cohen said even missing one day of work hurts her family budget. And she’s not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 restaurant workers admits having reported to work while sick with diarrhea and vomiting, which are the two main symptoms of Norovirus.
Health inspectors and restaurant owners both watch for these symptoms.
“Always our inspections are a snapshot in time. We may walk in and someone may have a cold. That’s not a reportable symptom,” said Paula Cox, Health Educator with the Guilford County, North Carolina, Department of Public Health.
The North Carolina Food Code spells out specific illnesses and symptoms that restaurant employees cannot bring with them to work…
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