A press conference today applauded legislators for taking time off to spend time with their families and urged them to make sure everyone else can take time off too—especially when they’re sick

RALEIGH (July 9, 2015) – It’s great that lawmakers are able to take time off during a busy work schedule to care for their families. But when lawmakers return to Raleigh next week from a much-needed July 4th vacation, it’s important to remember that too many North Carolinians can’t get time off just when they need it most—like when they get sick, or when they need to care for a newborn, or stay home with a sick grandparent.

That’s the message workers, business owners, and advocates sent during a press conference today backing policies that would allow workers to earn paid sick days and expand access to family medical leave.

Everyone gets sick or sees a loved one fall ill, but North Carolina’s outdated employment laws don’t allow workers to earn paid sick days or receive legal protections when taking extended family and medical leave to care for sick family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

North Carolina lawmakers have introduced two different legislative packages aimed at correcting these glaring anti-family policies. 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 four days for leave for employees of small businesses and up to seven days for employees of medium and larger businesses.

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.

“It’s good news that the General Assembly recognizes the importance of time off enough to provide a week’s vacation for their members. But as the return from this much-needed break, our lawmakers need to remember that too many workers in North Carolina can’t follow their example and take time off—even when they’re sick,” said Allan Freyer, director of the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project, one of today’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.”

Passing pro-family policies that would expand family medical leave and offer the opportunity to earn paid sick days would benefit businesses and workers alike, speakers said. Evidence from other states has shown that family-friendly policies of this nature reduce employee turnover, limit costs to business, and promote public health.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, Director of the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).