Paid Sick Leave for All
MORE SIGNS OF LIFE
This summer, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick days to their workers.
The law requires businesses that don’t already offer paid sick leave to grant employees one hour leave for every 40 worked, up to five days leave per year. It applies to businesses in the service industry with 50 or more employees, and will benefit as many as 400,000 workers who receive an hourly wage. Gov. Dan Malloy signed the bill into law in July.
ALSO … The first universal health care system in the United States was signed into law in Vermont in May. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the first step toward offering publicly financed health care for all of Vermont’s 625,000 residents. Activists in other states, including California, are pushing for similar health care reform bills.
Campaigns for local paid sick day laws are gaining support across the country. Currently Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are the only U.S. cities mandating paid sick leave. But others, including Seattle, Miami, Denver, and New York City, are looking to pass similar legislation. Advocates are fighting to reinstate paid local sick day laws in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker nullified an existing paid sick day law, and in Philadelphia, where Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a paid sick day bill.
Nearly 40 percent of all U.S. private sector workers get no paid sick days, according to a recent survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The United States is unique among industrialized nations: 135 others already have laws in place mandating paid sick days.
In July, hundreds of people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Summit on Paid Sick Days and Paid Family Leave. Delegates held a day of action to lobby legislators to support the Healthy Families Act, which would set a national standard for the United States.
Rebecca Leisher wrote this article for New Livelihoods, the Fall 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Rebecca is a former YES! intern.
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