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Major Paid Sick Days Victory

Connecticut is the first state to pass a law requiring paid sick days for workers. Both houses of the State Legislature approved a bill providing mandatory sick days for certain workers. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was just elected in 2010, and who campaigned in favor of paid sick days, signed the bill into law this week.  

Despite continuing opposition from the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Gov. Malloy called the legislation, “a reasonable compromise that represents good public policy.” 

San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC have passed local laws requiring paid sick days, and similar measures are about to be considered in Philadelphia, PA and Seattle, WA. A paid sick days law was passed by referendum in Milwaukee, WI last year, but is facing a legal challenge.  

The Connecticut law covers businesses with 50 or more employees and applies to an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 service workers who receive an hourly wage, including waiters, cashiers, hair stylists, security guards and nursing home aides. Each employee can earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, for a maximum of five sick days per year. 

Nationally, an estimated 44 million private sector workers – about 58 percent – do not have paid sick days, according to a 2010 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Public Welfare Foundation grantee.  IWPR and other researchers such as the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC), also a grantee, have shown that a lack of paid sick days can have significant consequences. Employees who feel forced to come to work sick can pose a health threat to their colleagues and to the public. Those who stay home to care for a sick child or relative might lose their job. 

Connecticut Working Families, another grantee, was one of the leaders of a broad coalition of workers’ rights groups that has pushed for the Connecticut law in the last few years. And grantee National Partnership for Women and Families has been a leader in the larger effort to secure paid sick days across the country. < Vicki Shabo, director of work and family programs at the National Partnership, has said that statewide legislation, such as that in Connecticut, makes sense because it “helps workers, helps families and helps communities.”  

ABOUT THE PUBLIC WELFARE FOUNDATION

The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit www.publicwelfare.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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