LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN, March 24, 2009
By Louisa Warren, senior policy advocate
When the U.S. economy sneezes, the old saying goes, the entire world economy gets a cold. When North Carolina's workers sneeze at work, so do their coworkers and customers -- and then the illness spreads outward, harming public health and the productive labor force that makes up the very foundation of our economic prosperity.
That's why it's so troubling that almost half of North Carolina's workers -- over 1.6 million -- don't have access to even one paid sick day to care for themselves or a sick family member. These are the workers preparing and serving our food, the people who take care of our children and our aging parents. Without access to paid sick days, workers are faced with the difficult choice between losing a day's pay (or possibly their job) or going to work sick. Especially in today's economy, workers are more often choosing to come into the workplace with their illness. This contributes to the spread of disease, undermining public health as well as business productivity.
To create a truly family-friendly economy, North Carolina needs the Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act (HB 177/SB 534). This legislation would guarantee workers in North Carolina up to seven paid sick days each year to care for themselves or a sick family member.
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