SEATTLE | Food safety and public health are the focus of debate over a proposed paid sick leave standard for the city of Seattle – but a new report says providing paid sick leave would also improve children’s health and school performance, and support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The report also notes that paid sick leave reduces business costs through reduced turnover and absences, and increases workplace productivity and morale.
The report, produced by the Economic Opportunity Institute and released by the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, finds that a paid sick leave standard in Seattle would help:
- Reduce the incidence of norovirus and other foodborne illness, and limit the spread of H1N1 and other common diseases. An estimated 190,000 people working in Seattle do not have any paid sick leave, including nearly 30,000 people in accommodation and food service; 20,000 retail and grocery workers; and close to 20,000 working in health services.
- Strengthen the health and school performance of children in Seattle schools. Studies show children recover more quickly from illness with a parent present – but for 74.4% of school-age children (and 64.2% of preschoolers) in Seattle, all parents in the family are in the work force. Children in families with low incomes are much less likely to have a parent with access to paid sick days.
- Support victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Economic independence one of the best predictors of whether a victim will separate from her abuser. But nearly half of sexual assault survivors surveyed by the Department of Justice in 2009 lost their jobs or were forced to quit in the aftermath of an assault. Among stalking victims who had a job, one in eight lost time from work.
- Increase employee retention and reduce turnover in all types of businesses. Estimated costs to replace just one full-time $12.00 per hour worker range from $6000 to $12,500. Policies that support flexible sick leave result in better retention and measurable declines in employee turnover in all types of businesses.
The Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, which supports a citywide paid sick days standard, is holding a community forum about paid sick days on Wednesday, May 11th at University Christian Church (4731 15th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98105) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.