Thursday, November 10, 2011

Got Paid Sick Days?

I knew it was coming. The tickle in my throat that grew into a persistent cough. That one sneeze that turned into three in a row. The feeling of a warm cheek that soon pushed the thermometer up to 100 degrees. I knew that despite my efforts of taking Vitamin C and using hand sanitizer, I had the flu.
I knew it was going to get worse before it got better and I didn’t want to risk the staff getting sick so I called out sick for the day. I proceeded to stock up on tea, tissues, and most of all, sleep. I woke up the next day and felt much better.

The thought that I was going to lose my job or not afford to pay the rent because I lost a day’s wages didn’t cross my mind. Unfortunately, that scenario is out of reach for many Massachusetts workers. Over 1.4 million workers in Massachusetts lack a single guaranteed earned paid sick day. This means that there are thousands of workers who must choose between their jobs and their health. Even more Massachusetts workers—more than two thirds—cannot take any sick time to care for a sick child or elderly parent. These workers can lose pay or even their jobs if they stay home from work to get well, or to care for a sick child or relative.  They can lose pay just for going to a routine doctor’s appointment to stay healthy.

NASW-MA has prioritized House Bill H1398, An Act to Establishing Paid Sick Days, which would address this significant economic injustice and public health issue. Under this law:
  • Employees earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked
  • Employees can earn up to seven paid sick days a year.
  • Earned paid sick time can be used for illness, routine medical appointments and domestic violence related.
  • Earned paid sick time can be used to meet the needs of the employee, or the employee’s spouse, child, parent or spouse’s parent.

There are many reasons why as social workers, we are advocating for this bill. HB 1398 would not only decrease the spread of illnesses but it also would ease the burden on families across the Commonwealth. Caretakers that are able to attend to their sick family members will strengthen families instead of adding the additional stress of losing a day’s wage or even their job.

Earned paid sick days also make economic sense. All health care payers will save when employees can take better care of themselves and their families, reducing their health care expenditures.  This preventive measure would support the efforts of cost containment in health care and boost employee productivity in the long run.

Passing this bill is a win for employees, employers, and families across Massachusetts. Help us tell the legislature that its time to pass HB 1398, An Act to Establish Paid Sick Days! I urge you to call your legislators and let them know that you want them to support HB 1398. The more legislators hear about the bill, the better chance it has of passing into law. Need to know who your legislator is? Go to  to find out. You can also email your legislator directly from our website.

Carol J. Trust

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