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PSN on October 12, 2006 - 8:45am
In a ground breaking measure, San Francisco voters will be voting on a ballot proposal next month to guarantee workers paid sick days, up to nine days per year for full-time workers at large businesses with fewer days off for employees in small businesses or in part-time jobs. A broad coalition of unions, political leaders, and community organizations, led by the dynamic Young Workers United, put the issue on the ballot.
While many employers have established voluntary policies to provide days for their employees, barely half (51%) of employers nationwide provide any paid sick days to their employees and only one in three allow employees to take off work because of a sick child. So 70% of parents face losing income or even losing their job every time they stay home with a sick child.
Not only would the measure help workers and their families, one study estimated that by reducing turnover and the spread of illness by keeping sick workers home, the measure will save $46 million annually for city employers.
And even though some in the business community oppose the measure, they aren't actively campaigning against it, because, as Dan Scherotter, vice president of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, explained in a recent interview:
It polls too high. I mean if you ask people would you like more sick pay, everybody is going to say yes. And to be honest, if we fight it, we look like complete jerks.
Given the deep public support for guaranteed sick days, success in San Francisco could well be the beginning of paid sick days joining raising the minimum wage as a signature issue for progressives across the country. A number of states from Montana to Massachusetts are expected to introduce paid sick days legislation in 2007.