BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Paid Sick Leave Legislation Catching on Across the Country

Posted by egehl on June 23, 2011

Momentum is building across the country at the state and local level in support of paid sick leave days.

Currently no federal  laws guaranty that all workers must be eligible for a minimum number of paid sick days.  As a result, millions of workers across the country cannot afford or don’t feel comfortable taking time off when they feel sick, or need to take care of a family member.  Workers must choose between their health or their paycheck leading to many consequences, such as workers becoming increasingly ill or having to take time off without pay hurting their family financially.

A few years ago, the Healthy Families Act was introduced in Congress which requires businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year.  Three components of the bill are of significant benefit to women as the paid leave covers: recovery from routine illness or care for an ill family member; doctor’s appointments and other preventative care; and time spent seeking help and services for victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Building off the national campaign to pass the Healthy Families Act, states and cities are following suit with support for paid sick leave for workers.  For example, Connecticut has just become the first state in the nation to pass paid sick days legislation that will ensure workers will be able to take paid time off to recover when they are sick or to care for a sick family member.  There are three cities, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Milwaukee where employees and their families benefit from some form of paid sick leave.  The Mayor of  Philadelphia recently vetoed paid sick leave legislation passed by the City Council.

According to a new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, San Francisco’s mandatory sick-leave law has wide acceptance among employees and employers.  IWPR’s survey found that two-thirds of employers support the San Francisco law, and only 1 in 7 employers complained that it affected their profitability.  The typical worker covered by the law used only three sick days per year and one quarter of employees took no time off for illness.

There is growing support for policies, such as paid sick leave, that protect the health of workers and their families to reflect the economic realities of family life today.  Now that women make up almost half of the workforce, most families with children have two working parents and growing numbers of workers care for an aging parent, few can afford to lose a day’s pay because they stayed home sick or cared for a sick loved one.

In addition to Connecticut, action is expected soon on paid sick leave measures around the county in a number of cities and states that have robust coalitions and advocacy efforts including Seattle, and Denver.  In New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and a dozen other states and cities, coalitions are actively building support for similar measures.

With these positive developments, stay tuned to hear more about states and cities supporting this sensible, long overdue measure to help workers balance their lives and take care of their families while still being able to afford it.

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One Response to “Paid Sick Leave Legislation Catching on Across the Country”

  1. Truer words were never spoken.

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