Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New York Times Story: Lack of Paid Sick Time May Spread Pandemic

As the New York Times points out in an article today, the lack of paid sick time nationally may increase the spread of H1N1 and other illnesses in the workplace. (Update - interested in who has paid sick time? The NYT has another article today focusing on that topic)

Public health experts worried about the spread of the H1N1 flu are raising concerns that workers who deal with the public, like waiters and child care employees, are jeopardizing others by reporting to work sick because they do not get paid for days they miss for illness.

Tens of millions of people, or about 40 percent of all private-sector workers, do not receive paid sick days, and as a result many of them cannot afford to stay home when they are ill. Even some companies that provide paid sick days have policies that make it difficult to call in sick, like giving demerits each time someone misses a day.

Public health experts say policies like these encourage many people with H1N1, commonly called swine flu, to report to work despite official warnings from the government and most companies that they should stay home.

What can you do about the need for earned sick time?
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.

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