Sick Days Go Viral

Around the nation, states and localities are enacting laws that provide a sick days labor standard, so that workers do not lose wages or jobs when the flu strikes.

This month, Portland, Oregon and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania both passed legislation (Philly awaits the Mayor's signature) and New York City is expected to follow suit. These actions build on laws enacted in Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

State and local legislation is necessary because there is no federal sick days law for private sector workers. It is the employer's decision whether to offer paid sick days, how many, and to whom. The result is that fully 40 percent of private sector workers do not have access to paid sick days, including 81 percent of low-wage workers.

This March momentum makes sense. Over 75 percent of the American public, including a majority in both parties, supports paid sick days for all workers. And business supporters are increasingly heard as they stand up for a healthier workforce, a healthier community, and a call for old-fashioned common sense. Businesses in San Francisco have said that the law there is working.

The march towards paid sick days laws will move forward one community at a time, and each win will be a shot in the arm for a new labor standard. There's even reason for hope at the federal level, as Congress was also part of "sick days fever" this month when it introduced the Healthy Families Act, which would set a simple, single standard for all. The list of co-sponsors is growing; it's almost as though it's "catching."