Albany is the seat of New York’s government – and government employees, along with our legislators, generally enjoy good benefits including paid sick days. But an estimated 40% of private sector workers living in Albany County lack even a single paid sick day and this must change. In 2014, New York City joined a growing number of cities, counties and states across the country now requiring all private employers to provide a minimum number of sick days. It’s time we did the same in Albany County.

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 East
Albany African American Clergy United for Empowerment
Albany Community Action Partnership
Albany County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO)
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1321
Albany Behavioral Health
Albany Law Clinic & Justice Center
Albany NAACP
Alpha Pregnancy Care Center, Cohoes
Arbor Hill Development Center
AVillage Inc.
Centro Civico, Inc.
Citizen Action of New York
Democratic Socialists of America Albany Branch
Empire Justice Center
First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany
Habitat for Humanity
Healthy Capital District Initiative
In Our Own Voices, INC.
Kate Mullaney Chapter Coalition of Labor Union Women
NY Labor Religion Coalition
Moms Rising
New York Nurses Association (NYSNA)
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault
New York State Council of Churches
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
Social Justice Ministries, St Vincent De Paul
SEIU Local 200 United
The Legal Project
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
United Tenants
Working Families
Worker Justice Center of NY, Inc

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