D.C. Council Considers Expanded Paid Sick Leave Law

Sep 19, 2013

By Lauren French

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council introduced legislation that would finally give restaurant workers and new employees access to earned sick days. The new law, proposed by Marion Barry with the support of nine other councilmembers, would expand on the 2008 Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (ASSLA).  Although the ASSLA, the second earned sick days law to be passed in America, was an important milestone for workers and advocates it includes numerous exemptions that leave  many workers in the District unprotected and struggling to care for their health and the health of their families.

Under the ASSLA, workers can earn three to seven paid sick days per year, depending on the number of employees at the business.  Importantly, the law exempts “restaurant wait staff and bartenders who work for a combination of wages and tips.” One study found that almost 80 percent of restaurant workers in D.C. do not currently have access to paid sick leave. That has major consequences for both  employees’ wellbeing and public health and safety. In fact, 59 percent of D.C. restaurant workers reported having prepared, cooked, or served food while sick, a practice that frequently spreads contagious disease and food-borne illness.

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