By Allison Stevens
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It's great that Connecticut is about to become the first state to mandate paid sick days for workers. But what about all the other states? Paid sick leave is a worker's basic right and more politicians need to be saying that, says Allison Stevens.
(WOMENSENEWS)--The 2010 elections didn't do a lot for the mom-friendly policy agenda, but there is one cause for New Year's celebration.
Connecticut Democrat Dan Malloy won his state's highest office in November. When he moves into the governor's mansion next month, Connecticut will be poised to become the first state to enact legislation allowing workers to earn paid sick days, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington, D.C.
That could trigger similar action in other states, according to the partnership.
Paid sick days laws have been passed in San Francisco, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., but no state has passed similar legislation. Neither has the federal government.
Here's hoping that Connecticut does indeed provide the ignition spark this movement needs.
Women--especially mothers and low-wage female workers (most of whom are of color)--really need this reform.
As a mother I know I've needed it. Ever since I first gave birth three and a half years ago, I have taken heavy advantage of paid sick leave benefits offered by my employer to manage everything from the seasonal flu to the croup to a fever-induced seizure.
Recently, my boss allowed me to scale back my hours to better accommodate the needs of my two young sons. In so doing, I gave up a salaried position with benefits, including paid sick days. Our kids are in good overall health (knock on wood), and so far we haven't much missed the benefit of paid sick days.
But that could change if my own mother undergoes chemotherapy next month. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, had an emergency lumpectomy before Christmas and is awaiting news from the doctor about whether a recurrence can be prevented with radiation therapy alone.
My mother and her doctors are optimistic about her prospects for survival, but it's been a trying time nonetheless. I can't imagine how I would have handled it all if I had sole responsibility for caring for my mom (and kids at the same time) but lacked the ability to do so.
And yet millions of women--especially those in the so-called sandwich generation who are charged with caring for both children and aging parents--face these kinds of work-family dilemmas every day.
For low-wage women, there's simply no answer. There's no financial leeway to take even temporary leave of work and more often than not there's no sick pay.