Amongst developed nations, America has the weakest labor protections. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid sick leave, even though sick employees attending work and infecting other costs the U.S. economy $180 billion in lost productivity annually.
To remedy this, some cities have taken matters into their own hands, with Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle passing their own paid sick days requirements. Milwaukee passed its own law as well, only to have it overridden by the Republican state legislature, while Philadelphia is inching closer to crafting a law.
There is even one state that decided to implement a statewide requirement that workers be provided with paid time off to deal with illness: Connecticut. Yesterday, ThinkProgress spoke with Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT), who signed Connecticut’s requirement into law. He explained that it “makes no sense at all” for sick employees to attend work, particularly when they’re in professions that involve interaction with vulnerable populations:
There’s no doubt that the very nature of biological interaction forces that to happen. That’s why having sick people come to work in hospitals and nursing homes makes no sense at all, and certainly why having those same folks go to work in a daycare facility where you have a particularly vulnerable population makes no sense at all. So I think in some sense, that reality allows us to have more and more people understand what we’re talking about on a public health benefit.
We also spoke with Seattle councilmember Nick Licata, who spearheaded his city’s effort to enact a paid sick days requirement. “I think what’s really important about paid sick leave is that it’s a victory where we’re moving something forward as opposed to a victory where we were stopping something bad from happening,” he said. “We have to start thinking about how to make this country a better nation,” instead of “thinking about how to save the last scrap of food on the table.” Watch it:
A paid sick days initiative will appear on the ballot in Denver in November.