Friday, May 21, 2010

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011

Below is an excerpt from the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010-2011 that discusses earned sick time. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place must earn to meet their basic needs. PathWays PA arranges for the updating of The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania every two years. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania 2010 is the seventh edition.

Earned Sick Time

In Pennsylvania, 46% of all workers lack access to earned sick time. Nationally, 57 million workers do not have even one paid sick day, including over three-fourths of low-wage workers. With no economic cushion to sustain these workers during unpaid leave, being sick or having an ill family member can be devastating to a family budget. A worker earning the median wage of a food preparation and serving worker in Philadelphia earns around $1,496 per month, only 38% of the Self-Sufficiency Wage needed for a family with one parent, one preschooler and one schoolage child. If she loses three days of work in a month to care for an ill child, her earnings would drop by $207 for that month, or more than 14% of her income. This is equal to one-third of the amount needed to cover the monthly food expenses for this family at just a basic level.

Without earned sick time, workers must worry about how the loss of wages due to sick days will impact their income and ability to cover the bills for the month, as well as the potential loss of their jobs (and often their health insurance coverage). Many workers will choose to come to work sick, putting themselves, their customers, and their coworkers at risk, rather than staying home without pay. Yet businesses that provide opportunities for workers to earn sick time profit in a number of ways, including higher productivity and morale, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism (attending work while sick), and lower turnover and training costs. A recent study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average cost of sick leave for private employers is $0.23 per employee hour worked. In the service industry, that cost dips down to $0.08 per employee hour worked. Other studies have estimated that the cost of providing earned sick time is less than the direct costs of dealing with worker turnover.

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