By Melissa Josephs
Sunday, April 8, 2012
States should guarantee paid time off for sickness. Too many workers--mostly women--are prepping food and providing healthcare when they should be home with the flu. Second of four in a series by Women Employed's Melissa Josephs.
CHICAGO (WOMENSENEWS)--Illinois lawmakers have introduced the Healthy Workplace Act, a bill that would allow workers to accrue up to seven paid sick days a year.
Women need laws like this.
Women still bear the brunt of caretaking responsibilities, and it is largely women who go without paid sick-days benefits. Female-dominated industries, including childcare and food service, are among the least likely to offer paid sick days, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Nearly three-quarters of workers in those two industries don't enjoy paid sick time. In fact, half of all working mothers, and two-thirds of low-income working mothers, report that they do not get paid when they take a day off to care for a sick child.
Opponents argue that legislating paid sick days would be a job killer, driving up payroll expenses, and bankrupting small businesses. They argue that if all workers had paid sick days, they would abuse the privilege, costing employers valuable dollars in a tough economy.
The evidence doesn't back this claim.
San Francisco was the first city to mandate paid sick days for their workers. The law went into effect in 2007. Four years later, in a survey of 727 employers, the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that 6 out of 7 employers report no impact in profitability. While business opposition was strong before the law went into effect, two-thirds of employers now support the law.
The study also found that parents who have paid sick days were 20 percent less likely to send a sick child to school, reducing the risk of an outbreak of disease. These workers are also much more likely to stay home when they are sick, ensuring that they won't cough on your food, blow their noses and then ring up your groceries, or take care of your elderly relatives when they have the flu. Paid sick days are a win-win for everyone.
Some people don't think twice about staying home when they're sick or leaving work when the school nurse calls about a sick child.
They get annoyed when the guy in the cubicle next to them comes to work with a nasty cough.
They're disgusted when their waiter at a restaurant sneezes while bringing their food.
If someone's sick, they should stay home so they're not spreading germs, right?
But what would the complainers do if taking a sick day meant losing a day's pay, risking a demerit at work or even losing their jobs?
By Melissa Josephs
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By Ellen Bravo