Monthly Archive for June, 2012

Paid Sick Days and the “Having it All” Media Frenzy

When the latest issue of The Atlantic hit newsstands, the essay featured on its cover garnered significant media attention. That’s because its focus was on women’s roles in our workplaces and our families and the struggle between work and family – something millions of workers across the country can identify with. Paid sick days coalition members weighed in right away:

  • On ThinkProgress, Tara Dawson McGuinness and Sara Jane Glynn from the Center for American Progress Action Fund point to four policies that would “address the problems facing parents in the modern workplace.” And two of them are a paid sick days standard like the one included in the federal Healthy Families Act and paid family and medical leave insurance. Read more…
  • On the Huffington Post, National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness says that “our country’s failure to adopt family friendly workplace policies makes it impossible for either women or men who hold jobs to have it all, regardless of whether or not they have children,” pointing to the more than 40 percent of the nation’s workers who don’t have a single paid sick day. Read more…
  • And at the Women’s Media Center, Family Values @ Work President Ellen Bravo explains that working mothers who struggle because the nation lacks basic family friendly policies “are not thinking about ‘having it all,’ they’re worried about losing it all.” She argues that women need policies like paid sick days that allow them to be responsible workers and parents “without having to be superwomen.” Read more…

We can’t say it enough: Paid sick days are central to the health and economic security of all workers – women and men – and their families. That’s why businesses and lawmakers at all levels need to make them a top priority. This recent media frenzy provides an opportunity to remind them all of how important this issue is to working families throughout the country.

Fathers, Families and the Urgent Need for Paid Sick Days

Just in time for Father’s Day, the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire released the results of a new study on working parents. Its findings are a stark reminder of the effect that our failure to provide paid sick days can have on families, but also of the potential that this basic workplace standard holds for businesses and the well-being of workers.

The report, Who Cares for Sick Kids? Parents’ Access to Paid Sick Time to Care for a Sick Child, looked at working parents’ access to paid sick days, specifically whether they are able to earn at least five days per year to recover from illness or care for their children. According to the report, 34 percent of employed parents do not have access to at least five paid sick days to deal with their own health needs, and a striking 52 percent don’t have at least that many to use to care for a sick child.

These results mean that fewer than half of employed parents – mothers and fathers – are able to care for a sick child without fear of risking their jobs or financial security. And the numbers are even worse for those with low education levels and low wages – the very workers who, arguably, need paid sick days most.

Everyone gets sick. Any parent knows that kids inevitably get sick and need routine medical care. But when nearly two-thirds of children in the United States live in households where all parents work, working parents are too often forced to risk their families’ health or their economic security when illness strikes because they can’t get a reasonable amount of time away from work. As a result, families, businesses and our communities suffer.

The irony in all of this, as the Carsey Institute study shows, is that paid sick days reduce conflicts between work and family for workers and, thus, increase job satisfaction. In fact, the study finds that employed parents with paid sick days to care for a sick child are nearly twice as likely to report being very satisfied with their jobs as those who do not. Satisfied and happy workers are more productive and less likely to quit, making paid sick days a win-win for businesses, families and our economy.

It’s appropriate to talk about basic workplace standards like paid sick days around Father’s Day. After all, fathers are integral to families and their economic security. But the lack of paid sick days has a disproportionate impact on women. Seventy-four percent of employed mothers surveyed for this report said they have stayed home from work to care for a sick child, compared to only 40 percent of fathers. Women are now the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of families, and often their families’ primary caregivers. When they don’t have paid sick days, entire families suffer.

So, this Father’s Day, a time for celebration and thoughts of family, let’s all be grateful for the fathers in our lives. But let’s also remember and remind our state and federal lawmakers that there are working parents in this country – women and men – who are struggling without a fundamental workplace protection that many take for granted. For the good of all parents and families, it’s time to support paid sick days efforts. Fathers, mothers and families are counting on it.

New Video Asks “Do You Eat Ethically?”

Restaurant patrons eager for a nice night out will soon have much more to consider thanks to Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United and author of an upcoming book on working conditions in the nation’s restaurant industry. The book, Behind the Kitchen Door, explores the serious challenges faced by restaurant workers, such as low wages, long hours, lack of access to health care, few opportunities for advancement and no paid sick days (among other basic workplace standards).

A new video preview of Behind the Kitchen Door looks behind the kitchen doors, literally, and asks viewers if they “eat ethically” – challenging them to look beyond more traditional in-vogue considerations like the origin and sustainability of the food. The video paints a disturbing picture of a restaurant industry in which servers, chefs, dishwashers and other workers are forced to work sick, without the basic labor standards and protections they need to make ends meet and provide for their families. Take a look:

Behind the Kitchen Door is expected to be released in February 2013.

NAACP Extends Support to State and Local Paid Sick Days Efforts!

For decades, the country’s workers have benefitted tremendously from the NAACP’s work to advance civil rights and promote economic security. That’s why it’s no surprise that the group has supported the Healthy Families Act and the federal paid sick days standard it would establish. Last month, it reinforced this commitment when its board of directors adopted a resolution in support of paid sick days efforts happening at the state and local levels, as well as state and federal paid leave insurance proposals.

This exciting news means that the effort to secure paid sick days and paid leave for all workers has grown even stronger. As Mr. Hilary Shelton, the director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the senior vice president for advocacy and policy, said:

The NAACP is proud to reaffirm its strong support for the Healthy Families Act, as well as its support for similar state and local paid sick days campaigns, and efforts at the state and federal levels, to create paid family and medical leave insurance programs to ensure that all workers have access to a portion of their usual income when serious personal or family health conditions arise or new children arrive.

Given that a disproportionate number of racial and ethnic minority workers do not have paid sick leave for themselves, and even fewer can afford to take time off to care for a sick child or close family member or for the arrival of a new child, we are compelled to take action. The absence of paid sick time and family leave forces Americans to make untenable choices between needed income and jobs on the one hand and caring for a sick or injured family member on the other. This is a choice that no one should have to make.”

We are thrilled that the NAACP is on board and look forward to the collaboration and future success it will bring!