MEDIA RELEASE: Legislators, employers, employees agree: paid leave is good for business, workers & the economy

Bills on paid sick days, expanded family medical leave introduced in House & Senate

RALEIGH (April 22, 2015) – Business owners, employees and family caregivers gathered at the General Assembly on Wednesday in support of new bills that would increase North Carolina workers’ access to paid sick days and family medical leave and made the case that paid leave is good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the overall economy.

Everyone gets sick or sees a loved one fall ill, but North Carolina’s outdated employment laws don’t allow workers to earn paid sick days or receive legal protections when taking extended family and medical leave to care for sick family members.

That’s why lawmakers have introduced two different legislative packages aimed at correcting these glaring anti-family policies. The first is the The Healthy Families & Workplaces/Paid Sick Days Act (HB 270 and SB 339) would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for up to 4 days for leave for employees of small businesses and up to 7 days for employees of medium and larger businesses.

This is crucially important for working families. “I am a mother and a health care employee,” home care worker Letitia Selvy said. “I shouldn’t have to choose between taking a day off to take care of a sick child or paying my bills, but that’s the position we’re put in as parents who work. Paid sick days are a no-brainer to anyone who cares about healthy schools and workplaces.”

Paid sick leave is also good for business, has and has been long known to reduce the spread of illness, improve employee productivity and save employers money. Rebecca Llewellyn owns Square Rabbit, a popular catering business in downtown Raleigh. Llewellyn already offers paid sick leave to her full-time employees. “It’s just common sense, especially in the service industry” Llewellyn said. “I want my employees to be able to take good care of themselves and their families, and my customers don’t want their food being handled by people who are sick.”

The second bill, The Caregiver Relief Act (HB 269/SB 337) Act expands eligibility for federal Family and Medical Leave Act-protected unpaid family medical leave to include care of siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step parents and parents in law.

Sarah Gamble of Raleigh is the primary caretaker of her grandson, who has cerebral palsy. “Like many NC families, I have the joy of being a grandparent raising my grandchild. Because I am his legal guardian, I had access to family medical leave, but many other NC grandparents are also helping to raise their grandchildren without access to workplace policies that reflect those realities.” Gamble said. “The same is true for siblings, stepparents, parents-in-law, and even grandchildren who are helping to care for loved ones.”

“Providing paid sick days and expanded family medical leave is good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the entire economy,” said Allan Freyer, director of the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project, one of tomorrow’s speakers. “More than a million workers in North Carolina have to choose between their health—or the health of their children—and their job. Too many workers cannot afford to make this choice and it’s past time we fixed these anti-family policies.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, allan@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503-551-3615 (mobile).

 

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