When we go out for a meal or shop for groceries, none of us wants to come home with stomach flu. Yet most of the employees we encounter in restaurants, and far too many working in retail and healthcare, don’t get any paid sick leave.
That’s why PSARA has joined a growing number of organizations in the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce to urge the Seattle City Council to adopt a new minimum standard for paid sick days, modeled after laws already on the books in San Francisco and Milwaukee.
Four of every ten Seattle workers have no paid sick leave. Many of them earn lower wages and have no cushion in the family budget. If they get sick, they have to make the hard choice – either go to work or lose a day’s pay.
Some workers have restrictions on their paid leave that put them in the same boat. Many grocery and hospital employees around Seattle don’t get paid leave until they have been out for three days. Workers also may have every absence count against them when it comes to evaluations, promotions – and keeping their jobs.
The public health risks to seniors and other vulnerable populations are obvious. But the negative consequences extend throughout society. Children whose parents don’t have paid sick leave are in poorer health and don’t do as well as more fortunate kids in school. They can’t go to the pediatrician during normal business hours. They get sent to school sick more often. Older kids are kept home from school to care for sick younger siblings.
In San Francisco, where minimum paid sick time standards have been in effect for more than four years, data show businesses thrive when their workers are healthy. San Francisco has had a stronger jobs picture than the surrounding counties and the state of California in every year since the ordinance passed, including in restaurants, the industry least likely to have offered paid leave previously. And even though many business owners initially opposed the ordinance, a recent survey shows two thirds now support it, while the vast majority say it has had no negative impact on profits.
Fortunately, here in Seattle a number of small business owners are stepping up to provide paid leave ahead of the ordinance – including Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, Plum Bistro, Sage Cafe, Herban Feast, the Salvadoran Bakery, and Girlie Press.
We know that other less responsible business interests will strongly pressure council members to oppose the Paid Sick Days ordinance. PSARA members can help overcome that opposition and pass paid sick days by:
2. Showing your support by sending in a postcard –and getting your friends and neighbors to do the same. We’ll deliver your card, along with thousands of others, to council members this summer.
3. Asking your local business owners whether they provide paid sick days (or the equivalent) to their employees. If they do, thank them! If they don’t, urge them to think about how paid sick days can make their business a healthier place to work and shop.