Seattle Times op-ed: Seattle will be healthier with required paid sick days

September 1, 2011 | Economic Opportunity Institute

Dr. David Springer, Pediatrician

makini howell

Makini Howell, Restaurantuer

From the Seattle Times:

By Makini Howell and Dr. David Springer

AS a chef and as a doctor, we are often asked our opinion. Usually it’s about what’s good on the menu or what’s good to treat an illness, not some policy at Seattle City Council. Today we offer our opinion about Seattle’s proposal to require companies to provide paid sick leave to their workers. Plainly put, requiring paid sick days is a good idea and the City Council should approve it now.

When workers have paid sick days they can stay at home and get well or care for a sick family member without fear of losing pay or getting disciplined. The council is scheduled to vote on the proposal, as passed unanimously by the Health Committee, on Sept. 12 at the full City Council meeting. It would make things better for hundreds of thousands of Seattle workers and their families who don’t get paid sick days now.

Paid sick days would make life better for the more than 64,000 children and their families in the city who will be returning to school the beginning of September, and for the tens of thousands of school-age children whose parents commute into the city every day. When parents have paid sick days, sick kids are much more likely to stay at home to recover from an illness instead of being sent to school where they spread germs.

Paid sick days will make life better for just about everyone. Period. Workplaces will be healthier because sick co-workers will stay home when contagious. People just going about their day — shopping, eating at a restaurant, getting care at a hospital, staying in a hotel, going to school or day care — will all be better off with paid sick days. That is why more than 100 local organizations and businesses have signed on in support of Seattle’s paid-sick-days proposal. That is why health professionals are speaking out in favor of the proposal.

Unfortunately, there are some voices for big business that are speaking out against paid sick days [“No need to rush on paid sick leave,” Opinion, Aug. 25]. But attempts to water down this proposal or delay its passage are not going to make life better for the people of Seattle.

As a business owner and a doctor, we can say flat out, there is no good reason for watering down or delaying the paid-sick-days proposal.

This proposal has been considered for months. There have already been significant amendments to the original proposal to make it more flexible for smaller businesses. There are already reasonable time periods for all employers to adopt new policies. And the proposal already makes it clear that if an employer currently has policies that meet the standard, they would not have to change anything.

So for the millions of people who live in, work in and visit our great city, we need to pass the proposal now. We need it passed in the form it passed the Health Committee. No delay. No watering down.

The bottom line: Passing this new law will make life better for us all. It’s the healthy and responsible thing to do. We join with the thousands of Seattle residents who have already written emails and made phone calls urging the Seattle City Council to pass the proposal.

Dr. David Springer is a family pediatrician with a practice in Wallingford. Makini Howell is the chef-owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle.

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Posted in Paid Sick Days, Work & Family

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