Monthly Archive for August, 2011

A Back to School Call to Action

Cross-posted from MomsRising.

Fall can be a challenging time for any working parent. Summer is over. Kids are headed back to school – and flu season is around the corner. When a child starts coughing and sneezing or spikes a fever, many parents are filled with dread. But for parents whose jobs do not offer paid sick days, these fears are compounded by worries about how they will care for a sick child and make ends meet. That’s why this is also a good time of year to raise awareness about the need for a common sense paid sick days standard in this country.

More than 44 million workers in the United States are in jobs that don’t provide paid sick days to deal with their own illnesses. Millions more don’t have paid sick time they can use to care for a child. This is despite ample evidence demonstrating the many ways parental access to paid sick days improves the long-term physical and academic health of children – and, conversely, the very real threat the lack of access to paid sick days poses to the health of our children, our schools and our communities. It’s an issue that affects all children and parents.

Caring parents want to protect their children’s health by staying home to speed their recovery and making sure they get the medical and preventive care they need. In the United States, however, nearly one-quarter of adults say they have lost a job or been threatened with job loss because they had to stay home sick or care for a sick child or family member. That explains why parents without paid sick days are more than twice as likely as parents with paid sick days to send a sick child to school or day care, where they will likely get sicker and spread contagious illnesses to the school community.

The health and economic benefits of establishing paid sick days standards have already been proven in cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. What’s more, three-quarters of the public supports a national paid sick days law, and support is strong across partisan and demographic lines. Given proven successes and broad support, lawmakers should be making paid sick days a priority.

So this back-to-school season, I urge you to talk to other parents, teachers, school nurses and your elected officials about the need for paid sick days. Now is the perfect time to have these important conversations about what’s best for children and their families.

To make your conversations easier, the National Partnership for Women & Families has put together a back-to-school toolkit, complete with a sample fact sheet, letters to the editor and elected officials, a set of discussion questions for parents and a survey to assess the impact paid sick days are having on your child’s school. The toolkit can be found here.

Working parents have too many worries this time of year. Being able to take time off to get their children the care they need should not be one of them. It’s time for a paid sick days standard that will help keep our children, schools and communities healthier.

Vicki Shabo is the director of work and family programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Denver, Seattle Make Headlines on Paid Sick Days

Advocates throughout the country are keeping up the drumbeat for paid sick days this summer! Already this month, campaigns in Denver and Seattle have made exciting progress.

On August 1st in Denver, where workers and advocates have been collecting signatures in support of a paid sick days ballot initiative since early June, the City Clerk declared that a sufficient number of signatures had been submitted to qualify the paid sick days initiative for placement on the November ballot. The victory is far from surprising, considering more than 12,500 signatures were submitted (more than three times the number required) and recent polls have shown that two-thirds of Denver voters support the proposal. Congrats to Denver workers, their families and the Campaign for a Healthy Denver. Your great work is starting to pay off!

Seattle’s proposed paid sick days ordinance, which was drafted in cooperation with local small business owners, continues to gain support – from the public, Seattle’s mayor, Washington economists, many city council members and local small businesses. In a promising victory on August 10th, the City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee passed an amended version of the ordinance in a 4-to-1 vote, officially sending it to the full City Council for consideration. Its vote is expected on September 12th. Congrats to the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce on a creative and effective campaign!

Stay tuned for more news on these paid sick days efforts in the coming months as the Seattle City Council votes and Denver’s municipal election moves forward.