Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some of the Highlights from the Earned Sick Days Hearing in Pennsylvania

As many of you know, the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces took part last week in a great hearing on the need for earned sick days in Pennsylvania.  With the help of terrific coalition members and national partners such as MomsRising, legislators had an opportunity to learn about the need for earned sick days - and they took advantage of it.

During the legislative hearing and legislative visits, many legislators on both sides of the aisle expressed support after hearing personal stories of Pennsylvania residents impacted by their lack of paid sick time. And we left each legislator a packet of tissues to keep the issue at the top of their minds.

We’re closer to more legislators signing on as cosponsors – which means we’re closer to passing this into law. As Representative Marc Gergely, the lead sponsor of the bill, said at the press conference: “I think [we’ve set] the stage for success this fall and even more so in the upcoming session. We look forward to continuing the fight.”

The day was a great opportunity to remind our elected officials of the common sense reasons for providing a modest minimum of earned sick time – and of the stories of how not having any paid leave has impacted real Pennsylvanians.

One story came from “E”, a nurse who said she has often worked while ill and seen others doing the same, even those who work directly with critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit. As a survivor of domestic violence, E also underscored the need for earned sick time for other survivors. E not only had to work while injured, but when she left her abuser, he scheduled court dates to conflict with her work schedule.

“If I had access to earned sick time that could be used for domestic violence during this period,” E told legislators, “.... I certainly would have been able to use my time in order to attend court dates, preventing my job from being at risk. As a parent, earned sick time would have let me care for my children when they were ill without the worry of potentially losing my job.”

News outlets across the state have picked up on the success of this hearing, and the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces plans to continue working with legislators on this issue at the local, state, and national level. In the meantime, please send a letter to your legislator about the need for earned sick days!

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