Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Economic Security and Paid Sick Days

From EPI's "The Need for Paid Sick Days"
If you read this blog often, you know the basics on the need for paid sick days:
  • 40 million private sector workers nationally have no access to paid sick days (and over 200,000 here in Philadelphia are in the same boat)
  • Employees without paid sick days are more likely to work sick, reducing their productivity at a cost to their employers and themselves
  • Parents without paid sick days are more likely to send children to school while ill, which not only hurts the child in the short-term but also poses risks to long-term health and development
However, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute points out some additional items about economic security and paid sick days that you might not have known.  This report uses a common approach to determining what a family needs to make ends meet: 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or almost $45,000 for a family of four (although research shows families may need even more).

A two-parent, two child household, with both parents working and earning $10/hour, already earns below 200% of the FPL.  This household needs to earn $3,639 to make ends meet, but only earns $3,470, even without taking an unpaid sick day. One parent using 3.5 days of unpaid sick time in a month (which could happen easily if just one child got sick) would lose the income equivalent to the family's grocery budget for the entire month.

Single parent households earning $10/hour and caring for two children also earn well below what they need to be economically secure: just $1,735 per month, compared to the $2,891 per month economic security threshold.  Missing more than three days of work in a month for this family would put it below the Federal Poverty Level.

As cities, states, and the Federal Government continue to look at the issue of paid sick days, these numbers should be taken into account.  Until we have developed a foolproof way to avoid getting sick, we need to make sure that all families can afford getting sick.

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