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New Poll Indicates Majority for Paid Sick Days

The Public Welfare Foundation released a survey yesterday that reports a majority of citizens believe paid sick days are a “basic workers right.” Over 40 million US workers do not have paid sick days, according to the Public Welfare Foundation. Eighty-six percent of the survey’s respondents said they would support legislation mandating at least seven paid sick days a year. Fifty-five percent of respondents without paid sick leave have gone to work with contagious illnesses compared to 37 percent who have paid sick leave. Respondents without paid sick days were two times more likely to have gone to an emergency room when sick because they can not visit a doctor’s office during regular business hours. While paid sick leave was largely supported by low-income, African American, women, and Democratic respondents, 64 percent of respondents who identified themselves as strong Republicans also supported paid sick leave. Deborah Leff, president of the Public Welfare Foundation, said, “This new survey shows conclusively that our nation is paying a high price for not allowing workers to earn paid sick days. It demonstrates that not having paid sick days drives up the costs of health care and causes more people to go to work sick, creating public health risks for everyone. It is no wonder that a strong majority of people across every racial group, every income level, every age group, every part of the country, and both political parties see paid sick days as a basic worker’s right, just like being paid a decent wage.” The study (see PDF) was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It was conducted over the phone in the spring of 2010 with 1,461 randomly selected people. Currently, paid sick days are required in only Washington, DC, and San Francisco, California. A measure that would require sick leave is currently being considered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many other states and localities are also planning to introduce their own sick leave measures. A federal Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave has been stalled in Congress since May 2009.

Sources:

Public Welfare Foundation 6/21/10; H.R. 2460

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