“Great” Alternatives to Paid Sick Days

Kids are gross. Inspiring, cuddly, lovable, yes – but also: gross. I had barely heard of things like pink eye, ringworm and foot and mouth disease until I became a mom. My kid even got scarlet fever – Oregon Trail much?

All kids get sick sometime, but nothing makes a 2 am vomit session worse than the additional worry that you’ll lose your job if you can’t go in to work the next day.

Unfortunately, that nightmare is a reality for far too many people in the United States. In fact, today, 40% of all workers and 80% of low-wage workers cannot earn even a single paid sick day to care for themselves or a sick kid. [1,2]

Fortunately, we’ve come up with some GREAT alternatives to paid sick days. Why stay home to care for a sick little one when you can…

1. Take ‘em to Congress or City Hall!

I especially recommend this plan for states like Florida and Pennsylvania where some legislators actually want it to be illegal for cities within the state to pass laws that guarantee sick leave. [3,4]

2. Hide ‘em under your desk!

True story! At MomsRising.org we receive tons of stories from moms and dads across the country who’ve had to take their sick kids to work with them. And since your darling vomiting babe will likely get you sick too, you’ll have an impressive pile of tissues to hide them with! Bonus!

3. Don’t get sick. Ever.

If you do get sick you can break out a haz-mat suit to keep it from your kids. In fact, you should probably wear one all the time.

We all know a supportive partner can make all the difference, but since pretty much no one can afford to have a parent stay home full time, a supportive partner might end up being thrown under the “sick day bus” by having to stay home even when they can’t afford to, which brings us to idea #4….

4. Win the chance to go to work.

If “Rock, Paper, Scissors” won’t fly you can always try shouting “Not it!” or “Nose goes.”

You might even be lucky to have a supportive job that has emergency childcare for sick kids. LOL, just kidding, but I hear Craigslist has great babysitters. If not you can always…

5. Hire a lion to babysit!

*If for some reason none of these horrible ideas appeal to you, there is one more thing you could try…

*If for some reason none of these horrible ideas appeal to you, there is one more thing you could try...

MomsRising is working with folks in cities across the country to organize for paid sick days – and we’re WINNING! Seven cities and one state have earned paid sick days for most workers and dozens of other campaigns are in the works, including a campaign for a national standard! Join us in the fight for paid sick days here! http://action.momsrising.org/sign/HFA_2013/

1,2. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ebs2.pdf
3. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-06-14/news/os-scott-signs-local-paid-sick-time-ban-20130614_1_florida-chamber-ballot-orange-county
4. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/10/24/2828431/pennsylvania-paid-sick-days-preemption/

Art by David Mansfield at A is for Effort

Via MomsRising, a member of the Washington Work and Family Coalition. Originally posted on Buzzfeed.

President Obama Calls for Paid Leave Policies

By Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work Consortium

In his most expansive statement yet in support of paid leave policies, President Barack Obama declared that women deserve “workplace policies that protect her right to have a baby without losing her job, [and] to take a day off to care for a sick child or a parent without running into hardship.”

The President spoke to students at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida. He called on Congress to bring this country into line with “every other advanced nation on Earth by offering paid leave to folks who work hard every day.” And he laid out the clear choice for members of Congress, saying they “will have to choose between helping women and families get ahead or holding them back.”

A hallmark of the President’s speech was the link between what women need and what the economy needs. “We’ve got to make sure that every woman has the opportunities that she deserves — because when women succeed, America succeeds,” he said.

Referring to the best practices of successful companies, President Obama said, “It turns out that if you give your workers some flexibility so that if they’ve got a sick child or a sick parent they can have a little time off, those employees are more productive, the companies do better, you have less turnover. So it’s good business practice. It’s the right thing to do.”

In addition to paid sick days and paid family leave, the President described a number of other policies that Congress should pass, including the Paycheck Fairness Act and a raise in the minimum wage “at a time when women hold a majority of low-wage jobs.” Doing so will create customers with more money in their pockets – and that, said the President, will “grow the economy for everyone.”


Family Values @ Work member coalitions are helping plan the series of regional roundtable discussions the President mentioned to hear people’s stories around the country. Those events will culminate in what he described as the “first ever” White House Summit on Working Families June 23.

We look forward to bringing forward the stories of those working hard to win paid sick days and paid family leave policies, and to partnering with elected officials to bring us out of the “Mad Men era” and into the twenty-first century.

Via Family Values @ Work

Employers Report Modest Use of Paid Sick Days

Maybe you’ve had that early morning moment of anxiety when you wake up with a fever and a cough that won’t stop and you think ‘Should I go to work today?’  If you’re lucky, your employer offers a few paid days off in case of illness and you can roll over to get some much needed rest. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. More than 41 million working Americans, in industries from fast food to health, education and social services, face the dilemma of taking time to recover from an illness or losing a day’s pay.

Currently, only seven cities in the United States and the state of Connecticut have laws mandating some type of paid sick leave. Yes, that is as bad as it sounds. To give a little context, the United States is the only one of 22 rich nations that doesn’t require employers to provide even a single day of paid sick leave. And though opponents claim that these laws are job- killers and anti-business, recent research indicates that this is not at all the case. In particular, my CEPR colleagues Eileen Appelbaum and Teresa Kroeger recently published a report — co-authored by CUNY’s Ruth Milkman and Luke Elliot — that assesses the impact of Connecticut’s paid sick leave law on business. A number of media outlets have taken note of the policy, and the lessons learned from the experiences of Connecticut employers are valuable for employers, employees and legislators across the nation.

The groundbreaking report, “Good for business? Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave Law,” draws upon data from a survey of Connecticut employers and onsite interviews to analyze the effects of the law, now in its third year of implementation, on businesses in the state. Contrary to the claims made by foes of the policy, the paid sick leave law has had little or no impact on businesses. In fact, over three quarters of the employers surveyed reported that they were supportive of the law. The report documents a wealth of insights on paid sick leave policies in practice. But I want to zero in on one point in particular that the authors make about the number of days of leave used by employees.

In the Connecticut report, the authors note that the average number of paid sick days available to workers rose from 6.9 days before the law was passed to 7.7 days after passage. Yet employees who took sick leave, on average, used only 4 of the available 7.7 days. Even in businesses with a union presence, where workers have an average of 12.3 days available, they use on  average just 4.4 days of paid sick leave. Moreover, employers reported that, on average, a third of their employees used no paid sick days at all. This stands in direct opposition to the idea that workers would abuse the policy and take as many days off as possible, even when not sick. This suggests that employees view paid sick days as a form of insurance, to be used only as needed. Even when additional days are available to them, employees in reality only take the time off from work that they require when they are ill or need to care for a family member.

Thirteen states are currently considering or have recently considered paid sick leave legislation. Critics in all of these states have trotted out the canards that this policy is anti-business and imposes an undue burden on employers. But the Connecticut experience serves as an excellent indication that hand-wringing over possible abuse of the law is unfounded.

Via the Center for Economic and Policy Research