Skip to main content

Working with H1N1

Cross posted on the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces Blog.

During the H1N1 pandemic, workers were urged to stay home if they were sick. However, those without paid sick time often had no choice. These workers had to choose between going to work sick or losing their pay and possibly their jobs. In a recent report, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has found that many workers were forced to go to work sick and that their lack of having paid sick days likely extended the duration of the outbreak.

Looking at information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), IWPR found that almost 26 million working Americans were infected with H1N1 in the fall of 2009. Of that 26 million, only 18 million took some time off work, meaning that 8 million Americans went to work with H1N1 despite urging from the CDC and the White House to stay home if sick.

As a result, IWPR estimates that 7 million co-workers were infected with H1N1. The study found that while 90 percent of public sector employees took time away from work when infected with H1N1, only 66 percent of private sector employees did the same. The option of staying home if sick allowed more private sector employees to recover faster and to keep from spreading the illness to their co-workers, therefore allowing the duration and amount of absences to decline faster.

Being able to stay home from work when you are sick is good for not only for employees but also for employers. Having a waitress with the flu, a day care worker with a cold, or an office worker with a virus puts customers and co-workers at risk of becoming ill themselves. The United States is only one of a very few developed countries without paid sick time for their workers, and it should not take another pandemic for changes to be made to allow workers to earn paid sick time.

Contact your state and, if in Philadelphia, city representatives and urge them to support paid sick days legislation. You can also 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? Tell your story in the comment section below or email it to us at


Popular posts from this blog

Are You Registered to Vote?

As we get closer to the November elections, Google searches on how to register are increasing, which begs the question: Are you registered? Do you know how to sign up?

Pennsylvania and many other states require voter registration before Election Day - in Pennsylvania's case, voters must be registered one month ahead of time.  So if you recently moved, just turned 18, haven't voted in a while, or never registered before, the time to sign up is now.

PathWays PA has partnered with Rock the Vote to offer voter registration through this blog! You can fill out the form below to register or to make sure that you are registered.

Please take the time to register, and also consider pledging to vote in support of your economic values at!

PS - click here to share a voter registration link on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Register Now for National Audio Conferences on Job Scheduling

From our friends at CLASP Register now for three national audio conferences on job scheduling! Job schedules matter in many ways. For all workers, it helps when an employer is responsive to a request for a needed schedule change. And far too many workers have volatile and potentially destabilizing schedules. If you don't know when you are supposed to be at work until the last minute, how do you arrange child care or transportation? If your total hours fluctuate from week to week, how do you budget for rent and food? To address these issues and emerging policy opportunities, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is hosting and sponsoring three Job Schedules Matter audio conferences.

The conferences, which are co-sponsored by the Center for Popular Democracy and the National Women's Law Center, will include comments from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman George Miller on why they introduced the Schedules that Work Act. You'll also hear from workers about th…

Register for FRAC's Federal Nutrition Program Conference Calls

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) will host two public conference calls in October. Information on the calls follows below:
Breakfast Matters - Effective Messaging: Getting Positive Press in your Community

Thursday October 11, 3 – 4 pm ET
Click here to register.
Learn tips from a national communications firm about how to place your stories with local media and receive positive press coverage for your program.

Presenters: * Jon Dickl, School Nutrition Director, Knox County Schools, Tennessee
* Amber LaCroix, BRG Communications

Afterschool Meals Matter - Community Partnerships
Wednesday, October 17, at 1:00 pm EST

Click here to register.
Learn how you can connect with a myriad of community partners, from parent groups to corporate volunteer programs, who can offer you and your program their time, energy, and support. Community partners can assist you with meal preparation, programming, outreach to increase your participation, and ultimately to help build up community support and in…