When employees are supported through both paid sick days policies to take needed sick time, we all benefit. Paid sick days protect public health by reducing the risk of contagion; diminish public and private health care costs by enabling workers to seek early and routine medical care for themselves and their family members; assist victims of domestic violence and their family members by providing them job protected time away from work to receive treatment and take necessary steps to ensure their safety; and promote the economic security and stability of workers and their families. A survey of New York City business owners by Huffington Post in late 2015 reported 86% of employers supported the Paid Sick Days law.
The legislation proposed for Albany County will include an important "safe time" provision that will allow workers to use paid sick time hours to seek treatment, or to take steps to ensure safety for themselves or a family member in response to domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse or sex trafficking. Twenty one percent of full time workers are victims of sexual violence, and dependence on a partner's income is a primary reason for women staying in a violent relationship. This important clarification regarding the use of paid sick time was recently added to New York City's Paid Sick Days legislation, and is either under consideration or has already been incorporated into many other city, county and state laws.
Without the protection of paid sick day laws, millions of U.S. workers are forced every day to decide between doing what makes sense and their economic security. With overall earnings declining against the cost of living, more and more people survive pay-check to pay-check, and the loss of even one day’s earnings can be difficult to manage. For many, staying home sick or taking time to attend to personal or family health and safety needs can mean the permanent loss of a job.
In Albany County, the problem is particularly significant for part time workers (74% lack paid sick days) and service workers (66% lack paid sick days), but is also widespread among transportation, construction and sales workers. Fifty percent of Hispanic workers in Albany lack access to paid sick days.
Workers who go to work sick put the health of those they serve, and those who work beside them, at risk. They also risk increasing the severity and/or duration of their own illness, and of on the job errors or accidents. Similarly, workers who are unable to take time to address personal or family experiences of sexual violence are likely to experience a range of mental and physical challenges that can threaten their long term health and pose immediate workplace risks. Parents who send their sick children to child care programs, school or group activities risk increasing the severity of their child’s illness, and the health of other children and caregivers. Infections are spread through hospitals, restaurants and schools because sick people can’t afford to stay home. Workers who are unable to take time to address experiences of sexual violence are likely to suffer a spiraling range of mental and physical impacts
We call on the Albany County Legislature to pass Paid Sick Days legislation covering all private sector and non-profit employers as quickly as possible. Let this county set the example for Upstate New York, where all workers and their families deserve access to paid sick days. Let us act now to set a standard that will improve the health of our businesses and our communities.
1199SEIU - United Healthcare Workers EastAlbany African American Clergy United for EmpowermentAlbany Community Action PartnershipAlbany County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO)Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1321Albany Behavioral HealthAlbany Law Clinic & Justice CenterAlbany NAACPAlpha Pregnancy Care Center, CohoesArbor Hill Development CenterAVillage Inc.Centro Civico, Inc.Citizen Action of New YorkDemocratic Socialists of America Albany BranchEmpire Justice CenterFirst Unitarian Universalist Society of AlbanyHabitat for HumanityHealthy Capital District InitiativeIAMIn Our Own Voices, INC.Kate Mullaney Chapter Coalition of Labor Union WomenNY Labor Religion CoalitionMoms RisingNENYCOSHNew York Nurses Association (NYSNA)New York State Coalition Against Sexual AssaultNew York State Council of ChurchesRoman Catholic Diocese of AlbanyRISSESocial Justice Ministries, St Vincent De PaulSEIU 32BJSEIU Local 200 UnitedThe Legal ProjectUpper Hudson Planned ParenthoodUnited TenantsWorking FamiliesWorker Justice Center of NY, Inc