By Jason Coates, Public Policy Associate
On March 22, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) – the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers – testified to the New York City Council on the need for paid sick days. For the last three years, a coalition of community leaders, workers, and professional advocates have worked to enact a paid sick days law in New York City. At the hearing, NHCOA was joined by representatives of small businesses, community based organizations, worker rights groups, individual workers, faith advocacy groups, economists, and academics. NHCOA is working with these groups to raise awareness about the positive effects of paid sick days, and how they can benefit everyone in New York City, especially Hispanic older adults.
The Paid Sick Time Act (PSTA) would allow private sector New York City workers to take a modest amount of paid time off to care for their own health or the health of a loved one. The PSTA would allow workers of businesses with more than five employees to earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers for businesses with less than five employees would not earn paid time off, but would be able to take time off to care for their health without the fear of losing their job.
NHCOA’s testimony to the City Council stressed the importance of paid sick days for the health and economic security of Hispanic older adults.
- Hispanic older adult men have an above average labor force participation rate and, as older adults are more susceptible to illness, paid sick days are especially important for them.
- The poverty rate for Hispanic older adults is 18.7%. The Paid Sick Time Act would provide a small piece of additional economic security to those that are still working.
- Overall, about 30% of Hispanics lack health insurance. This means that policies, like paid sick days, that let them treat minor illnesses before they become major health issues, are especially important.
- The Paid Sick Time Act would allow adult children to take time off of work to care for a parent who has taken ill.
- As policy makers discuss reducing the cost of health care, they should look to sensible policies, like paid sick days, that encourage people to access preventative health care.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2011. August 2012. Accessed at: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsrace2011.pdf
 DeNavas-Walt C, Proctor B, and Smith J. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-243, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2012.