Slowly but surely, paid sick leave is on the way

Locally and at the state level, activists have pushed sorely needed paid sick leave closer to passage. In one county, it has passed. The public health and household stability benefits of paid sick leave have become well known.

/By Jasmine Snead <>PM BlogSpace/ Over the last five years, advocacy groups have argued for universal paid sick leave across the country. This year, this movement has broken ground and paid sick leave is on a path to pass in Maryland and at the federallevel next year!

 Progressive Maryland and other allied groups have been fierce advocates of earned sick leave in Maryland.  It is largely due to the continuous effort of the Progressive Maryland Coalition and other grassroots campaigns that this bill is getting attention in Annapolis. In Maryland, only Montgomery County has a paid sick leave law. Prince George's County considered a sick leave bill last year but unfortunately it never got through the County Council committee process.

 In other states, paid sick leave laws are instituted in New York City, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Seattle and the count is continuously growing. In Vermont, the state legislature recently ratified a paid sick leave bill that is waiting on Governor Peter Shumlin’s (D) signature.

 Because I share the excitement over the progress of earned sick leave, I decided to shed some light on a lot of the myths surrounding this legislation.

 True: In Maryland, currently 700,000 workers are without paid sick leave. Nationally, 43 million people do not have access to paid sick leave.

 False: Earned sick leave hurts taxpayers’ pockets

 If all employees were guaranteed paid sick leave and received continuous care from their primary healthcare providers there would be 1.3 million fewer emergency room visits per year and an overall savings of $1.1 billion annually.  Majority of the savings, around $517 million, would go to taxpayer-funded health insurance programs such as Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

 True: This bill promotes public health and allows sick employees to take the time they need to recuperate without infecting co-workers and customers. This is especially important in service industries like restaurants. Access to paid sick days reduces the spread of the flu in workplaces by nearly six percent.

 False: Most of the larger companies have paid sick leave.

Among the biggest opponents of paid sick leave are large fast food companies. Several fast food franchises in Maryland and the Restaurant Association of Maryland are staunch opponents of this bill.

 Progressive Maryland will keep pushing for this important provision for low-income workers at the state and local level. But it is important that accurate information about paid sick leave is made widely available. That way, grassroots folks will understand its important advantages for them and their co-workers. If you would like up to date information on the status of the bill, continue to check out the Progressive Maryland blog.

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Jasmine Snead is an intern at Progressive Maryland.