Paid Sick Days
The nation has entered an exciting new era that will allow millions of lower-wage workers to access health care insurance. Tragically, many of these workers will be unable to take advantage of this historic new benefit because they cannot take time off of work to get the care they need due to lack of paid sick days. As part of its work life and job quality work, CLASP advocates for state and federal paid sick days policies that will allow more workers to take time off when they need to tend to their own or a family member's health.
Aug 3, 2017 | PERMALINK »
For Worker and Family Health, Defend ACA and Fight for Paid Leave
On the Family and Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) 24th anniversary, we commemorate progress while recognizing workers and their families need for far more support. This includes access to health insurance as well as the paid leave that enables them to use it.
The FMLA is the federal law that guarantees some workers (about 60 percent) access to job-protected, unpaid leave to recover from illness, care for sick family, or bond with new children. These protections are important, but because leave is unpaid, many workers aren’t able to take it. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid are currently under threat from the Administration and Congress, compounding workers’ lack of paid leave with potential loss of their health coverage.
When FMLA passed, advocates pushed Congress to quickly add wage replacement. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for paid family and medical leave, Congress has been unable to pass paid leave legislation for almost 25 years. This failure to act has serious consequences for the nation’s health and wellbeing.
An updated CLASP brief, “Paid Leave Necessary for an Ounce of Prevention,” explains the importance of paid leave to preventive health care. Without pay, workers are forced to make decisions that undermine their health both now and long term. For example, nearly half of FMLA-eligible workers who needed leave but didn’t take it cited lack of affordability. Consequently, they delayed or forewent needed medical care.
Under the ACA, 20 million previously-uninsured people have gained health insurance. For many of them, access to care was previously out of reach. It is critical that we defend the ACA to protect access to doctors, treatment for illness, and preventive care that saves lives and dollars. At the same time, we also need to look ahead. Access to health care can be futile when workers lack the paid leave they need in order to use it without risking their economic security. Even in today’s climate, with the safety net in jeopardy, we must remain committed to forward motion on paid leave.
Notably, there is momentum at the state level. Last month, Washington joined California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington, D.C. in establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program. Washington’s program offers generous benefits, including up to 18 weeks of leave for workers to care for themselves and their loved ones at times of serious illness or when a new child joins the family. As noted in CLASP’s brief, access to paid leave promotes adult caregivers’ mental health, increases breastfeeding rates, and boosts preventive care for infants and children. Washington families will reap these benefits as the program is implemented in the coming years.
The health of U.S. workers and their families is critical to our communities and economy. We can’t play politics with health insurance or reject workers’ need for paid family and medical leave. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act has been introduced in Congress. This equitable, inclusive, comprehensive bill is modelled on successful state programs and would benefit workers, businesses, public health, and the economy. On the anniversary of FMLA’s implementation, the need for action could not be clearer.
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Oct 06, 2016 Over 1 Million Workers to Receive Expanded Access to Paid Sick Days under New Federal Rule
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Feb 03, 2016 Don't be Fooled: Paid Sick Time Laws Don’t Cost Jobs
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Business Benefits of Paid Sick Time
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Healthy Families Act: A Detailed Review for Businesses
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | Jan 29, 2016 The Healthy Families Act: A Fact Sheet for Businesses
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Aug 03, 2017 For Worker and Family Health, Defend ACA and Fight for Paid Leave
- Liz Ben-Ishai | Jun 22, 2017 San Francisco Leads on Fair Scheduling, But Better Enforcement Needed
- Jessica Gehr | Jun 16, 2017 Doubling Down: How Work Requirements in Public Benefit Programs Hurt Low-Wage Workers
- Zoe Ziliak Michel | May 26, 2017 Maryland Governor Vetoes Earned Sick Time Bill
- Liz Ben-Ishai | May 24, 2017 Trump Paid Family Leave Proposal is Part of Federal Budget’s Assault on Working Families