Overview: Paid Sick Days

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Everyone gets sick – yet an estimated 1 million people working in Washington have no paid sick leave.

Paid sick leave helps limit the spread of disease and keep everyone healthy by encouraging sick workers and children to stay home – away from co-workers, schoolmates, and customers. But the people who can least afford time off without pay are most likely not to have it. Many workers who handle food and meet the public – in restaurants, retail, even health care – have no or limited access to sick leave.

An April 2014 evaluation from the University of Washington concluded that Seattle’s law has significantly increased access to paid sick leave, especially among restaurant workers, and that 70% of business owners are supportive. Access to paid sick leave is associated with more well-child visits, cancer screenings and other preventative health care services – for workers, children, and elderly parents. Sick leave allows victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to seek safety, treatment, and legal assistance.

In 2016, voters approved Initiative 1433, which guaranteed one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, starting in 2018. EOI was instrumental in formulating this policy and a member of the Raise Up Washington coalition.