Monthly Archive for October, 2012

The Urgent Need for a Paid Safe Days Standard

One in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.

An average of three women are killed every day by current or former partners.

An estimated 1,200 women die and two million are injured every year due to domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month may be coming to a close today, but the urgent need to prevent domestic violence and support survivors continues. And paid “safe” days, such as those included in the Washington, D.C., and Connecticut paid sick and safe days laws, can go a long way toward ensuring they are able to get the assistance and supports they need.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are tragically common in the United States today, yet our country’s workplace policies do not provide critical protections for survivors when they need it most. Between 25 and 50 percent of domestic violence survivors report losing a job at least in part due to the domestic violence. And, unsurprisingly, almost all domestic violence survivors (96 percent) report that domestic abuse affected their ability to perform their job duties. Risk of job loss is especially troubling for domestic violence survivors because they often need to feel financially secure in order to seek assistance. In fact, many stay with their abusers because they rely on them for financial support.

A national paid sick and “safe” days standard would allow survivors to recover from or seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault without risking job or income loss. Across the country, cities and states are passing laws that guarantee job-protected time off for survivors – but getting these critical workplace protections should not depend on where a survivor lives. It’s time for a federal standard like the one included in the Healthy Families Act.

Legislators need to make it a priority to pass laws that help those coping with  domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault. Ensuring some job protection through a paid safe days standard is a good place to start.

For more information on the need for paid safe days, check out our fact sheet.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, remember that it is never the victim’s fault and there are ways to get help. Start by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).


Exciting New Campaigns in Portland and Miami!

Warm weather may be gone or fading fast in many places but, when it comes to sick days, things are heating up in at least two corners of the country! This month, workers and advocates in Portland, Oregon, and Miami, Florida, launched exciting new campaigns to pass earned paid sick days standards in their cities. These efforts are yet another sign of the movement and growing support for this common sense policy.

Last week in Portland, Family Forward Oregon and a broad-based coalition of allies launched a campaign for earned sick days in the city. This coalition of advocates, workers and businesses are urging the city council to pass a citywide ordinance that would guarantee workers the right to earn time to recover from illness and keep their workplaces and the public healthy; more than 40 percent of private sector workers in the city don’t currently have this right. Check out the Portland Tribune’s great coverage of the campaign, which features the story of a local worker suffering without paid sick days. And be sure to follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date and get involved.

In Miami this week, the more than 40 community organizations that make up the Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces kicked off their campaign to ensure workers in the county can earn paid sick days. More than 75 people rallied in support of the effort, which is aimed at securing an ordinance that would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick time. As the Miami Herald reported, 45 percent of workers in the area are currently forced to “punch a time clock despite having a cold or flu, back spasms or migraines. Without paid sick days, they can’t afford to stay home and lose wages – and possibly their jobs.” Show your support for the campaign by getting involved and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

We look forward to watching these two exciting efforts unfold. And we hope that everyone will do their part to ask their elected officials and candidates at all levels #RU4paidsickdays?

Making Sustainable Scheduling a Priority

Every day, workers across the country are forced to choose between their jobs and their health and the health of their families. Too often, that’s because they struggle with unpredictable schedules, aren’t offered enough hours at work, and can’t earn paid sick days. In the retail and service industries, it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to classify workers as part time to avoid providing some of these basic protections. Today, the Retail Action Project launched a campaign aimed at taking on this growing problem. And workers across the country are stepping up to take action. You can help by showing your support here.

Eva, a retail worker in New York City, is one of these workers. Her story powerfully illustrates the costs to workers and families when workplaces don’t provide basic standards and protections. In her own words:

My name is Eva, and I have worked at a boutique in midtown Manhattan for eight years – a long time by retail standards – but I still don’t have a stable schedule or a steady paycheck. Because I am classified as part time, I don’t get paid sick days or health benefits – much less paid vacation, and my hours keep getting cut. Each year, I earn less and less, because my managers change my schedule to accommodate newer and younger workers. I’ve been pushed to fewer, later shifts. Basically, I’m chronically underemployed.

I thought I’d found a good job when I started at the boutique. However, it has been a struggle since the beginning. Instead of being rewarded for my years of hard work with a full-time, stable job, my employers have wreaked havoc in my life through my schedule. My hours fluctuate from week to week, and decrease from month to month. I now work 25 hours per week if I’m lucky.

I have to provide for myself and my husband on my part-time hours. Finding affordable healthcare is an ongoing challenge for us. I simply cannot afford doctor or dental visits, so I only go to the nearby public hospital in cases of emergency. I’ve been ordered to attend work sick with a cold or flu not only on my shifts, but to fill in for newer workers’ vacations. What’s even worse is that my boss demands that I cover her shifts on the days that she has doctor’s appointments, even though I don’t get health insurance or any paid sick days – after eight years! Because of my unstable schedule, I never know how much I will earn by the end of the month, so I have no way of anticipating whether or not I can pay my bills. That’s why I’ve joined the Retail Action Project’s Sustainable Scheduling Campaign.

This isn’t just happening to me. That’s why, on October 17th, retail workers are getting together to push back against unpredictable schedules and underemployment, with actions in front of stores that don’t offer sustainable schedules or enough hours in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Every week, I talk to other retail workers about how hard it is to find full-time work, to provide for our families, and manage our other responsibilities on these erratic part-time jobs. Retail work is one of the fastest growing sectors in this difficult economy, but they are also creating a crisis of underemployment – using abusive part-time scheduling to do so.”

No worker should be denied hours so her employer can avoid providing basic protections like paid sick days and health coverage. To get involved in the Retail Action Project’s Sustainable Scheduling Campaign, check out the campaign website. And sign the petition in support of Eva and all retail workers dealing with unsustainable schedules here.

R U 4 Paid Sick Days?

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post.

This week, workers all across the country will be tweeting that question to candidates for office at all levels, asking them to support this basic workplace standard or explain why they will not. At a time when more than 40 million hardworking Americans can’t earn any paid sick time to use when they get stomach flu or need a medical test — and millions more can’t earn paid sick time to care for an ailing child — it’s a question we all need answered.

Right now in the United States, more than 40 percent of the private sector workforce — and more than 80 percent of low-wage workers — cannot earn a single paid sick day, no matter how many years they have been on the job, no matter how good their work.

We all pay a price for that. Nobody wins when restaurant workers with flu handle our food, nursing home staff report to work with strep, and sick children go to day care and infect other kids.

Paid sick days are essential to families’ health and economic security. It’s time to end the days when we force workers to either work sick or lose pay or their jobs – when parents have to choose between their jobs and sending sick children to school or child care.

Laws that let workers earn paid sick days are immensely popular. They are good for workers, families and businesses. They protect the public health. And they strengthen our economy. Laws that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days are common sense, win-win advances the country needs.

But right now, these laws are the exception rather than the norm. Paid sick time laws are on the books — and working well — in San Francisco, the District of Columbia, Connecticut and now Seattle. But progress elsewhere has been stalled and, at the federal level, Congress has failed to make the issue a priority by passing the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers the right to earn seven paid sick days a year.

It’s time to speak out and ask all candidates to tell us where they stand. That’s why the National Partnership is launching “seven days for sick days” on Twitter. Starting today, we’re using Twitter to ask candidates across the country: #RU4paidsickdays?

Joined by our allies who represent moms, workers, women, seniors, businesses, LGBT families, Latinos and others, we’re asking candidates to go on record in support of paid sick days. I hope you will join us. To make it easy, we’ve created an interactive map with a built-in custom tweet for candidates in every congressional district. It’s now as easy as click, click, click to ask your candidates #RU4paidsickdays?

Today is also the start of National Work and Family Month, when we recommit to building the kind of family friendly nation we all need. So join us, today, and throughout the week by using Twitter and other social media to ask candidates in your state to speak out on this issue.

Debra L. Ness is the president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.