Paid Sick Days on Ballot in Milwaukee

Paid Sick Days on Ballot in Milwaukee

Milwaukee has a paid sick leave referendum on the ballot for November that would allow employees to take leave for medical treatment, preventive care, or diagnosis for themselves, as well as to care for a close family member who is sick or who needs diagnosis or preventive care. Additionally, employees would be allowed to use the time to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault (for example, using accrued time to flee to safety.)  Employees at firms with 10 workers or less could accumulate up to 40 hours, whereas larger companies would have to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research published a study this month, which estimates that nearly half of Milwaukee workers will benefit from the ballot initiative if passed and that employer savings will greatly outweigh any costs.  In fact, employer savings would total $38 million annually, largely due to decreased turnover.  Additionally, workers would save $1 million a year in health care expenditures due to decreased flu contagion at work.  Philadelphia is looking at a similar bill.

No one likes coming into work sick or leaving an ill child at home, but too many working men and women fear that if they take time off they will lose their job or not be able to cover the monthly rent.  According to a 2007 Wall Street Journal poll, 80% of Americans favor having employers provide paid sick time to employees and 78% say that employers who fail to do so pay for it in other ways, such as reduced productivity. [This would perhaps be a better leading paragraph]

States and Localities Lead the Way:  Increasingly, states and localities are addressing the issue through a combination of bills and ballot initiatives.

  • In San Francisco, CA, the voters approved a paid sick days ballot initiative in 2006.
  • Washington, DC City Council earlier this year approved a paid sick leave law. 
  • The California Assembly has already passed AB 2716, a paid sick days bill that would ensure all workers in the state have access to paid sick days to deal with routine illnesses or to care for a sick child.

The following states have or are considering paid sick leave legislation: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.  The National Partnership for Women and Families maps out what localities and states are working towards paid sick leave and where we have already won victories.

Currently the vast majority of American workers are shortchanging their health and productivity by working while ill, not to mention potentially impacting the health of others.  Paid sick leave allows all of us to focus on recovering so that we can be better providers and employees.  It’s a common-sense public health solution — one that values working families and one that’s long overdue.



Paid Sick Days on Ballot in Milwaukee

Wall Street Journal/ Harris Interactive - Most U.S. Adults Support Paid Sick Leave
Institute for Women’s Policy Research — Valuing Good Health in Milwaukee: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
San Francisco Paid Sick Leave
Progressive States Network - Stateside Dispatch: Paid Sick Days and Paid Leave Bills Approved in D.C.
CA AB 2716