May 19 2009
During the recent scare over Swine Flu, working Americans were encouraged to stay at home to rest and recover from illness. But it is estimated that “at least 20 million Americans go to work sick because of a lack of paid sick leave.” A new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is the only nation out of the 22 rich countries without a national policy that guarantees paid sick days and leave for its workers. Low-income workers in particular, are affected disproportionately when absent from work, as they fear losing wages or their job itself when taking time off to take care of their health. In California, a bill was introduced into the Assembly earlier this month, mandating at least 72 hours of paid sick leave for all workers whose companies employ 10 or more staff. A similar bill was introduced on the Federal level called the Healthy Families Act. Meanwhile Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida plans to introduce the Paid Vacation Act of 2009, this Thursday. The first paid vacation bill in U.S. history will be announced at a news conference in Washington D.C. If passed, the bill will at minimum “require one week of paid vacation for employees of companies with at least 100 employees” after one year on the job.
GUESTS: Jody Heymann, Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, lead author of the report Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries, John De Graaf, Executive Director of the Take Back Your Time.