Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Speakers Weigh-in on Bill Requiring Paid Sick Leave

The House Labor Relations Committee held a hearing on legislation that would allow workers to collect paid sick leave. Several people from a number of organizations testified on behalf of the Happy Families Healthy Workplaces Act, which would require employers with 10 or more workers to  provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked, with a cap at 52 hours. Pathways PA’s President and CEO Carol Goertzel testified, saying workers should not have to choose between their job and their family’s well-being. She says in Pennsylvania, 46% of private-sector workers and 78% of low wage workers lack access to paid sick days. She says those are often people who work with the general population, such as restaurant, child-care, and nursing home employees. Goertzel says most employers fear that offering paid sick leave to employees will hurt their business and ultimately the economy. However, where it has been implemented, she says employers claim it's a success. “Employers who offer the opportunity to earn sick time say it ultimately improves their bottom line, not hurts it.”

Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Physician for the Pennsylvania Department of Health says the common recommendation to “stay at home when you’re sick” goes ignored too often, yet is one of the most effective ways to get better and avoid spreading illness. He also says it's common knowledge that sick individuals are not as productive as those who are well. “We also know that when individuals are present in the work place or at school while they’re sick, they will inevitably spread this disease to their co-workers and classmates.”

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