Throughout the COVID pandemic, we have seen the importance of paid sick leave in allowing workers to stay home and care for their health without jeopardizing their finances. Despite the fact that supportive policies like paid sick days have proven to be beneficial for workers’ wellbeing, as well as public health and the economy as a whole, 33 million workers still lack access to these critical benefits. We highlighted this gap in our nation’s laws in our recent report, “Sick Without A Safety Net: Now Is the Time to Build on State Successes With a Federal Paid Sick Time Law.”
In “Sick Without A Safety Net,” we draw from the lessons that ABB has learned fighting to successfully pass paid sick time laws at the state and local level–efforts that have extended the right to paid time off to care for personal or family health needs to 55 million workers already. In highlighting the success of these state and local policies and calling for a federal paid sick time law that covers all workers, we also elevate the lived experiences of workers who have encountered the need for these protections firsthand.
One worker whose story is featured in the report is Crystal, a youth counselor from Kentucky, a state that still lacks paid sick time protections. While suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, she was denied federal emergency paid sick leave and told instead to take unpaid leave (even though she lacked sufficient time off to quarantine under the Family and Medical Leave Act) and was threatened with termination from her job. After she called A Better Balance’s free and confidential legal helpline to receive information about her rights, Crystal was able to advocate for herself, keep her job, and receive the benefits she was entitled to.
Since that time, federal emergency paid leave sick leave has expired. Last month, Crystal joined us for a webinar, Sick Without A Safety Net: The Urgent Need and Case for a National Paid Sick Time Law, where she shared her story and called for permanent paid sick time for all workers:
The work we do everyday–and our efforts to advance supportive policies that workers urgently need–is directly informed by our helpline callers, many of whom, like Crystal, go on to become powerful Community Advocates and call for change alongside A Better Balance. We remain committed to fighting for paid sick time for all workers across the country, during and beyond the current pandemic, and continue to call on Congress to pass these lifesaving protections without delay.