Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Obama Admin Supports Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick days or basic respect for workers, almost half the private workforce in the USA doesn't have it. Yet another reason to move to Europe.

Here in the U.S., the biggest problem isn't whether or not you get paid for sick days, the bigger problem is that you can get fired if you have the nerve to get too sick to show up for work. And if you want a day off because your child is sick -- and you aren't employed as a middle class professional -- move to Europe:

[T]he Obama administration is supporting legislation to provide mandatory paid sick leave for more than 30 million additional workers who are some of nation's lowest-paid employees. . More than 50 million American workers — nearly 40 percent of the private labor force — don't get paid if they miss work because of illness.

The problem is most pronounced in lower-paying industries such as food service and child care, in which only 27 percent of workers get paid sick leave. A recent report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research estimates that people who came to work while they were sick with the H1N1 virus may have infected 7 million people at the height of the outbreak last year.

After trying to call in sick with the flu several years ago, 23-year-old Megan Sacks of Tacoma, Wash., was told she would have to be "on her deathbed" in order to miss her lunchtime shift as a waitress. After she showed up visibly ill, however, a customer contacted the health department to complain. Sacks, who didn't have paid sick leave, was kept off the schedule for three weeks and later fired because her boss thought that she'd called the health officials. "I was really hurt and upset because I thought I was a valued employee," she said. "And to this day I still don't know who called the health department. If I knew, I would have asked them not to, because I lost my job over this."