Our guest blogger is Jane Farrell, a Research Assistant for economic policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Portland became the fourth American city to approve a paid sick days law Wednesday, an important step forward today that will help the city’s workers, employers, and residents. Portland joined three other cities — San Francisco, Washington DC, and Seattle — and one state, Connecticut, in modernizing its workplace policies and acknowledging an important reality: everybody gets sick but no one should be at risk of losing a job, infecting coworkers or customers, or missing a day’s pay because of an illness.
While the economic and social benefits of paid sick days are numerous, Portland City Councilmembers nevertheless weighed the evidence in favor of and against paid sick leave carefully. Ultimately, they unanimously decided that this policy would help make Portland a stronger city and community. Worker-friendly policies like paid sick leave help reduce turnover, saving businesses time and money they might have spent on training, hiring, and replacing employees. It also strengthens worker loyalty and increases worker productivity.
Paid sick leave also helps lower health care costs by reducing the number of costly emergency room visits Portland hospitals will have to finance or subsidize. While 40 percent of private sector workers across the US lack even one paid sick day, Portland residents who previously lacked this protection can now rest easy — and work even more diligently — knowing they are safe and covered.