Sick days improve public health. Plus: Employers on San Francisco sick leave, and budget cuts and brain drain at UW

April 30, 2009 | Alex Stone

Swine flu highlights sick days gap: As schools close in response to swine flu outbreaks, parents without paid sick days are caught in the middle. The goal is to keep the flu from spreading. But the request brings up a glaring disconnect between the needs of public health and the majority of workplace policies, at least in the United States. Nearly half of the people who work for private employers in the US have no paid sick leave, according to an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among low-income workers in private employment, almost 80 percent have no paid sick time. Of those workers in private employment who have paid sick leave, only a third can take a paid sick day to care for an ill child. So when a school closes, it can create chaos. | Christian Science Monitor

Employers’ Perspectives on San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Policy: This report summarizes strategies used by San Francisco employers to implement the nation’s first paid sick days law. Employers faced three new policies that affected staff wages and benefits, and were able to implement the paid sick leave requirement with minimal impact on their business. By assessing employers’ perspectives on the operational challenges of the law, the study provides lessons to inform future research and policymaking. | Urban Institute

Public education enters the marketplace: For the first time in modern history, the University of Washington will receive more dollars from student tuition than state funds. But the ‘high-tuition/high-aid’ model being proposed as the solution to state budget cuts further squeezes the middle class, and results in lower enrollment and reduced access (see Michigan and Virginia). Smaller departments, community outreach, policy analysis and volunteerism will also suffer as the focus shifts toward programs that bring the most money into university coffers. Washington’s public colleges and universities currently offer top-tier educational access because they are a public good. We are poised to privatize that system, bringing an end to its long and historic tradition. | seattlepi.com

Brain drain: The University of Washington, along with other colleges and universities statewide, is finding ways to pare down its operating budget in light of the budget cuts. But $73 million in budget cuts isn’t simply ‘trimming the fat’ – significant cuts will be made in both administrative and academic departments. The biggest worry for senior UW administrators is attracting and retaining good faculty to remain a top-tier school, a difficult prospect in light of the cuts. | Seattle Times

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Posted in Education, Health Care, Higher Education, Paid Sick Days, Work & Family

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