Earned sick days an obvious bill to pass

With many Americans unable to take days off, it is in our best interest to pass laws for it.

by Keelia Moeller

Americans seem to possess a mindset that considers any form of idleness lazy. Taking paid sick days might not appeal to them because they do not wish to take advantage of the system. While this mindset is acceptable among those that choose it, not everyone feels the same way.

There are many Americans living from paycheck to paycheck and going to work while sick. For them, sick leave isn’t even an option.

Not everyone has the opportunity to stay home from work, so we sometimes find ourselves with sick employees working around food and contaminating those around them.

The unsanitary nature of this practice is obvious, as food-service workers cause half of all stomach flu virus transmissions.

For employees who have sick children to take care of at home, but whose careers don’t allow them to miss work, there’s another problem. In Minnesota, four in 10 employees cannot take a sick day without risking their careers. But if there is nobody at home to care for children, we also end up with sick students showing up to school.

Minnesota is proposing a solution to this problem. Labor, faith and community organizations across the state have recently started a campaign called Minnesota Benefits. The campaign kicked off in Duluth last Tuesday, as organizers held an event to get their word out.

Coincidentally, Duluth is ranked the worst area in Minnesota for workers to get access to paid sick leave.

Minnesota Benefits advocates for new legislation to create earned sick days for more than one million Minnesotans. This would benefit people who currently don’t have the right to earn any sick days whatsoever. The plan will allow one hour of earned sick time per every 30 hours worked.

Those with full-time jobs will be able to earn up to nine sick days, and those with part-time jobs can earn up to five. Small companies will also have a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave for employees per year.

Sick leave is not the only issue that Minnesota Benefits aims to address. The proposed legislation also brings up “safe time,” or time taken off because of domestic violence, stalking or assault. Some women are currently in danger of losing their job because they choose to stay home for reasons relating to domestic violence.

Considering the growing number of jobs without benefits, this legislation is a necessary solution. Those that organized the campaign believe there is a great deal of bipartisan support for their bill.

The bill was introduced to the Minnesota Legislature last Monday. Eighty percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Independents and 60 percent of Republicans support paid sick-leave time.

That said, a lack of paid sick days is a problem that affects customers, employees and everyone in between. This is a public health issue, and Minnesota Benefits provides a logical solution for it.

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