As the U.S. gears up to fight the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the CDC is advising that Americans, when sick, should not go to work or school. But the sobering reality is that for tens of millions of workers across the U.S.—especially those who are juggling caring for a family—taking a single sick day could mean being unable to afford basic necessities, or even losing a job.
Experts agree that paid sick days are essential for promoting public health and preventing the spread of diseases. It is estimated that our nation’s lack of paid sick time was responsible for 5 million incidents of flu-like illness during the H1N1 pandemic. Yet just 11 states—along dozens of localities—guarantee workers this fundamental right, enabling them to stay home and care for their own health or for a sick child or loved one.
New York State currently has the opportunity to pass a statewide paid sick leave law in the budget, and to cover the over one million workers in the state who still lack this right. And on March 11, Congress will hold a hearing on the Healthy Families Act—a bill that would, for the first time, create a nationwide right to paid sick time.
At A Better Balance, we’re committed to continuing to lead campaigns to pass paid sick time on the national, state, and local levels, and to defend paid sick time laws that are under attack. The public health threat of the Coronavirus has shined a spotlight on the impossible choice America’s working families have for too long faced between their health and their livelihood. The time for comprehensive legislative action to protect the health of our workers and our communities is now.
Knowledge is power. To learn more or to see where your jurisdiction stands when it comes to guaranteeing paid sick time, please see the following resources: