41 percent of private sector workers, 1.2 million Virginians, have 0 paid sick days (or paid time off).
This creates a crisis for low-wage workers who must choose between taking a sick day for themselves or a loved one and getting paid.
This is why the Virginia Interfaith Center is working to create a paid sick day standard to require all employers with six or more employees to provide five paid sick days (40 hours) each year for full-time workers that could be used for themselves or to care for a sick loved one. Part-time employees would accrue less paid sick time based on hours worked. PTO policies qualify as paid sick days.
Workers and their families – When a worker takes 3.5 unpaid sick days, the average family loses a month’s worth of groceries. Workers are forced to choose between feeding their families and caring for themselves or their children. Workers and their children need to be able to stay home when they are sick.
Schools – Parents who don’t have paid sick days are more than twice as likely to send their children to school sick, than parents who have paid sick days. Sick children can’t learn. Sick children spread germs to children and teachers.
Public health – Low-wage workers (food- service, personal health care, and childcare workers) are the least likely to have paid sick days. More than 80 percent of food industry workers and 75 percent of child care workers have no paid sick days. More than half of all Norovirus outbreaks can be traced back to sick food service workers who were forced to choose between working sick and losing pay or their job.
Businesses – Without paid sick days, workers go to work sick, infecting others and impacting productivity. Employers lose $160 billion annually in productivity due to “presenteeism” (the practice of coming to work despite illness or injury and working less efficiently). Providing paid sick days results in reduced turnover – saving businesses money. The restaurant industry which has a high turnover rate found that implementing workplace benefits can reduce turnover by 50 percent.
People of color – In the US, about 38 percent of African Americans and 50 percent of Latinos do not have access to a single paid sick day. More than 25 percent of Latino households and 30 percent of African American households have no savings and cannot afford to take unpaid time off from work.