Buoyed by Connecticut's enactment this month of the nation’s first state law guaranteeing paid sick days to most workers, more than 200 organizers for paid family leave and paid sick days pushed for national legislation this week as they gathered in Washington, D.C.
Their movement is picking up steam, despite the obstacles in Congress and in many states to passing any legislation helping workers. The organizers, most linked to either Family Values @ Work or the National Partnership for Women and Families, came from 23 states and the District of Columbia. Though success with federal legislation in this Congress is unlikely, they anticipate passage of paid sick day legislation in the coming months in Seattle, Denver, New York City, and possibly both Massachusetts and, in a weak form, Georgia.
The failure of many employers to provide paid sick days, and the failure of the country, alone among advanced industrial countries, to mandate such protection causes great personal hardship. Torrie Moffett of Milwaukee, for example, lost four jobs in five years because she had to take time off to address school problems of her mentally ill child. None of her employers paid for sick leave or protected workers against dismissal for taking days off for sickness, as much of the new legislation mandates.
New research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicates that even at workplaces with paid sick days, nearly half of workers report that management has policies that could lead to dismissal for taking too many sick days.
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