Experience Shows Little Reason to Oppose Sick Leave Policies

Ideas and Issues
Protest in Philly for Paid Sick Days

Miami    Gradually the community-labor campaign for paid sick leave in various states and cities is quietly making progress even in the throes of the Great Recession.   Connecticut has passed such a policy statewide.  San Francisco has had a policy in effect since 2007 giving 1 hour of sick leave (usable for a variety of purposes) for every 30 hours of work.  My interest was piqued recently in Philadelphia where a coalition driven by ACTION United and various unions passed a measure last year, were vetoed by Mayor Nutter, and now are ramping up to resubmit the measure with a veto proof majority.

Though the end of the world was forecast by various corporate Cassandras, no such thing seems to have occurred, which may be why the hootenanny around such a measure is being replaced by silent consent or outright yawns.

No small reason lies in the fact that, contrary to business bluff and bluster, when workers actually have sick days they not only do not abuse them as threatened, but in fact they hardly use them at all.  In a report prepared by the federal Center for Disease Control, cited by the Drum Major Center for Public Policy,

Workers with paid sick leave miss, on average, only 1.7 work days a year for illness or injury, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The math is clear – hardly more than a day and one-half per year.  That is hardly burdensome in terms of either expenditure or staffing for businesses, yet a tremendous benefit for workers.  The San Francisco Restaurant Association has in fact called the sick leave plan there, “good public policy,” though they had originally opposed the measure.

So, mum’s the word, but while we keep it quiet, let’s have a big, silent cheer for the progress being made by those still pushing forward on the basic human rights of workers for relief in such humanitarian circumstances as their own or family sickness.