It’s not quite the high-profile issue that health care or climate change is, but there’s been some interesting developments recently on the quest to get paid sick leave for all of America’s workers. The fact that many American workers get no sick leave whatsoever is rarely discussed in elite circles, most likely because, as Steven Greenhouse has highlighted with this chart, the phenomenon is quite class bound:
Advocates for changing the situation have made headway in terms of linking the issue to fears about the spread of H1N1 flu. Does it really serve even the interests of prosperous professionals to live in a country where low-wage food service workers, for example, are likely to show up at work while sick and infect everyone else? This was discussed at a recent CAP panel featuring, among others, Vice President Joe Biden and Domestic Policy Council chief Melody Barnes where they seemed generally supportive. But things took another important step forward today in the somewhat obscure venue of the Senate HELP Committee’s Subcommittee on Children and Families where Seth Harris, Deputy Secretary from the Labor Department, came to offer a strong statement of support for paid sick leave:
In conclusion, it is clear that while much has been done to help prepare for a national health emergency like 2009 H1N1, more is needed to help protect the economic security of working families who must choose between a pay check and their health and the health of their families. That is why the Administration supports the Healthy Families Act and other proposals that advance workplace flexibility and protect the income and security of workers. I appreciate your time today, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
It’s worth observing that this bill would, among other things, be a specific boon to parents since it would allow you to take sick leave in order to take care of a sick child. You’d think that might be the kind of thing “pro-family” conservatives would be interested in along with us godless socialists.