Getting Down to Business Newsletter - September 2013
September 04, 2013 | Liz Ben-Ishai
Getting Down to Business: News on Employers and Paid Leave
In this Issue
Getting Down to Business is CLASP's monthly update on the latest news about business and paid leave.
We hope you enjoyed a pleasant August, hopefully including some well-deserved vacation time. This month, we bring you a summer-time version of Getting Down to Business! As always, if you have news you want to share with your colleagues around the country, let us know.
Although D.C. has been enjoying a surprisingly temperate summer, the District’s Paid Sick Days for All Campaign is turning up the heat. During D.C.’s Restaurant Week, advocates connected with diners to explain why the campaign to extend the city’s sick days law to cover tipped employees is good for workers, good for businesses, and good for public health. About 900 people were convinced, signing on to the campaign’s petition; they joined those who have already signed to bring the total number of signatures up to nearly 3,000. The campaign’s recent activities have been covered in the Dcist, The Northwest Current, the Express, and cbsdc.com.
Businesses are getting with the program too: the Paid Sick Days for All campaign has several new business supporters and continues to work hard to build its roster of sensible business owners. After participating in a webinar on business certifications and paid leave, hosted by CLASP, ASBC, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Family Values @ Work, the D.C. campaign connected with B Lab, an organization that certifies businesses that are committed to achieving social goods. B Lab founder, Hardik Savalia, has been helping the campaign to identify potential D.C. based B Corps that may be supportive of an amended sick days law. With all of this recent action, the many workers in the District who are not covered under the current law may soon have reason to celebrate!
The Employment Policies Institute, a corporate-backed “think tank,” released a questionable study last month, claiming that Seattle’s earned sick days laws has been bad for business. The Seattle Times published an op-ed by the Employment Policy Institute’s Michael Saltsman, which presented the same sort of misleading data the organization has leveraged in other jurisdictions. But Seattle’s sick days advocates and business supporters sprang into action to debunk the study and Saltsman’s claims. Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, told Seattle’s Capitol Hill Blog, “I think it’s gross to go to a food establishment and know that if the employees are sick that they’re not incentivized to stay home and take care of themselves.” Josh Hansen, manager of Everyday Music, also defended the city’s sick days law. He explained, “I think that’s one of the basic rights, for employees to be paid for their sick leave.” City councilman Nick Licata also spoke up about the law, pointing out that the survey is speculative when it comes to the financial impact of earned sick days on business.
The management at Greyston Bakery in Yonkers would love to offer paid family leave to its workers. Mike Brady, the company’s president explains, “We understand the development of children and that bonding when they’re first born is critical, both for the newborn child and the parents.” That’s why he supports a paid family leave insurance (FLI) program in New York State – a public policy that would allow him to support his employee’s in their efforts to both do their jobs and care for their families. The business was profiled in a recent Public News Service story about the prospects for FLI in New York. David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, told reporters that Greyston is not alone in its support for the policy. He said businesses like Greyston and Eileen Fisher (the women’s apparel company) go “out of their way to create exemplary workplaces that really respect their employees.” Read more >>
New Jersey’s earned sick days campaign gained traction and media attention last month. Leaders of women’s groups, labor groups, and legislators called for earned sick days, emphasizing that such policies help women to succeed and, in doing so, boost the economy. Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action told the New Jersey Newsroom that the policy makes sense for businesses: “Earned sick days are a win for the economy, a win for workers and a win for small business owners, who only stand to gain from the productivity a well-rested and healthier staff will bring.” Read more >>
August marked the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees some workers unpaid time off work to care for a sick loved one, recover from a serious illness, or bond with a new child. Marking the anniversary, 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, emphasized that it is time for paid family and medical leave. Many workers find unpaid leave difficult or impossible to afford. Linda Meric, Executive Director of 9to5, emphasized that paid family leave enables workers to support local businesses. “Family and medical leave insurance will allow women and families to maintain basic spending at a time they need it the most – contributing to stability of families, communities and a growing economy. It’s a simple common-sense solution that’s good for working families, local businesses and the economy.” Read more >>
Olivia Golden joined CLASP as executive director in August 2013. An expert in child and family programs at the federal, state, and local levels, Olivia brings a wealth of knowledge on policies that affect working families and a track record of delivering results for low-income children and families in the nonprofit sector and at all levels of government. During her eight years in senior executive roles at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Olivia was a key player in expanding and improving Head Start, creating Early Head Start, and tripling the level of funding for child care. Most recently, prior to joining CLASP, Olivia was a fellow at the Urban Institute where she was a thought leader on such topics as the importance of a two-generation approach to addressing poverty and supporting vulnerable children and families; the educational needs of young children of immigrants; how to help families living in poverty through paid leave and other ideas; economic security for extremely vulnerable families; and how streamlining public benefit programs can better support low-income families.
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