Reading Help

Vermont: on its way to becoming the fourth state to adopt paid sick leave bill

By Elyce Nollette, Public Policy Associate

There is a lot celebrate in Vermont with a 76-to-66 vote in the state House of Representatives on its paid sick days bill!

Although there is more work to be done, this sets a strong precedent for paid sick days for its workers. Currently, the state lacks a law requiring employers to provide their employees paid or unpaid sick leave. Through this bill, employers would be required to provide at least 3 paid sick days to their employees. Should statewide paid sick day provisions be adopted in its Senate, Vermont would become the fourth state to do so, joining the ranks of California, Massachusetts and Connecticut as paid sick and family leave trendsetters in the United States.

Every worker deserves the right to take time off in order to take care of their own health and the health of their loved ones without fear of losing wages or face disciplinary action. Yet, the fear and anxiety of having to choose is a reality more than 11 million workers must face each day. While there is a federal piece of legislation (called the FAMILY Act or the Healthy Families Act), which would establish paid sick and family leave standards throughout the United States and provide additional protections for American workers regardless of where they live, efforts to pass the bill through Congress and get it to the President’s desk have been stalled.

In the meantime, states like California, Massachusetts and Connecticut, took it upon themselves to pass their own state legislation because they understand the importance of paid sick leave and paid family leave as an integral part of the health and well-being of their residents. Now Vermont is one step closer to joining this elite group of states. We congratulate Vermont for another step in the right direction, and all those who are fiercely advocating for paid sick and family leave in the state and throughout the country.

Take Action

Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to voice your support for the Healthy Families Act.

Make 2013 a year for ensuring workers and caregivers have paid family leave

Another of NHCOA’s resolutions in 2013 is ensuring that caregivers and workers have paid family leave because no one should have to choose between their job and their family.

The ability to take paid time off of work to recover from an illness or care for a loved one is one important way to stop the spread of diseases. However, those who need paid time off the most don’t necessarily get this benefit from their employer.
Continue reading “Make 2013 a year for ensuring workers and caregivers have paid family leave”

Paid Family Leave: When Getting the Flu Equals Losing Wages

By Jason Coates, Public Policy Associate

As flu season approaches, policies that protect the public health are more important than ever. The ability to take paid time off of work to recover from an illness or care for a loved one is one important way to stop the spread of disease during flu season. However, those who need paid time off the most don’t necessarily get this benefit from their employer. That is why NHCOA works on a paid family leave efforts to support healthy communities and economic security.

Retail and restaurant workers are more likely to not have paid leave, and this puts the public at risk. Flu season, combined with crowded stores and restaurants, means that workers have contact with large crowds, increasing the chance of transmitting any illness they may have. Although most employers will allow workers to take time off to recover from illness, a large number of employers do not pay workers during this period. This means  many workers simply cannot afford to take time off even when they are ill.

Attending work while sick is a widespread problem. Office supply chain store Staples Inc. conducted a national survey of workers which found that nearly 80% of employees come to work sick. Moreover, over 40% of private-sector workers do not have any access to paid sick days. Although they may be able to take time off to recover from an illness, they will not be able to recover lost wages during their illness. Therefore, workers without paid family leave are faced with choosing between their health and their income.

The bottom line is that while there are many U.S. workers who do have paid family leave, there are other who don’t. At first glance, this may not seem to matter. However, ensuring all workers have leaves that pay benefits can potentially improve public health and reduce health care spending. When workers, especially those in close contact with the public, are able to stay home to recover from their illness, the spread of infection is limited. Containing the spread of illnesses and quickly treating them helps the health care system avoid large costs in the long run. Further, paid leave laws also allow workers to take charge of their health by managing minor health problems before they become serious or chronic.

That is why NHCOA is working to connect segments of the Hispanic communities with other stakeholders to advocate for paid family leave policies at the state and local level. Leaves that pay laws are good for all parties involved: workers, the health care system, and the public in general.