Ashley is an outreach specialist at an employment training agency and a mom. She is happy that she now has paid sick days, but that was not always the case. Having paid sick days allows here to care for her son when he is ill especially since her child care provider will not accept him when he is ill. Having the flexibility of paid sick days also allows her to see her own doctor as she can take time off in increments of 15 minutes.
Prior to her current job, Ashley worked as a waitress and did not have any paid sick days. She would dread getting sick as missing a day meant missing her wages, making it impossible to make ends meet. Ashley sees paid sick days as a tool that people need in order to succeed and be self-sufficient.
Andre is a banquet server in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he does not have paid sick time. At times, he works 10 or 12 hours shifts 5 or 6 days in a row. Andre suffers from a curvature in his spine that causes a pinched nerve and in order to work he needs to take medications for the pain. On one occasion, Andre had to go to the emergency room because the pain was so severe. He was at work the next day, despite the pain. He feared taking a day off work as his employer was known to not give people shifts if they called out sick even once. Andre knew this because he worked with a pregnant woman who was far too sick to work one shift. Once she was able to work again, the employer refused to give her any shifts and she was forced to find other work.
Mo is working as a server in a restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She does not have any paid sick days. The policy at her restaurant is that if you are scheduled to work and unable to come in then you need to find a replacement; however, if you cannot find a replacement and you do not come to work then you will be fired. There have been a number of occasions where Mo felt very ill, even possibly having the flu, but without anyone to cover her shift she had to go to work. When she had to work while sick, Mo would wash her hands constantly and try to not cough or sneeze around her customers or their food, but even still she is sure people were exposed to whatever cold or flu she had.
To listen to other stories from workers in Pennsylvania please visit the Working Families Story Bank. There you can hear workers tell their stories in their own words.
The Working Families Story Bank is a collection of story portraits of workers and employers across America. Presented by the Family Values @ Work Consortium, a national network of 14 regional coalitions, the Story Bank focuses on narratives about paid sick days and affordable family leave. Many of the stories reveal the human consequences of current workplace policies. Other stories show the promising practices of employers who support the dignity of their workers and staff through their workplace policies.