With all of the recent new coverage surrounding the ‘swine flu’ and its potential to become a pandemic, paid sick days are once again in the limelight. As of this morning, there have been only 20 confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S., but its size and scope is not yet known. Keeping a close eye on the situation, White House officials have recommended, “If you’re sick, stay home, get treatment, go see a doctor.”
But that’s easier said than done. In the U.S. today, nearly half of workers aren’t allowed to earn paid sick days (i.e. they don’t have a single paid sick day to take when illness strikes in order to keep our communities healthy and not spread illness). And more than half of the workforce does not have or cannot use paid sick days to care for sick children. The numbers are even worse in industries where people need paid sick days the most: 92% of waiters and waitresses, and 79% of child care workers aren’t allowed to earn any paid sick days.
How do the experts expect people to stay home when they’re sick if they don’t have any paid sick days? When people go to work sick, it puts us all at risk. The recent swine flu outbreak is a powerful reminder that we need paid sick days for public health.
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