Everyone gets sick, but more than a million workers in North Carolina have no opportunity to earn paid sick leave, and even fewer can take longer-term paid leave to address a serious health condition or welcome a new child.

When illness inevitably strikes, they must take unpaid time off—sacrificing their wages so they can get well, take care of sick loved ones or recover from pregnancy. They may even face retaliation from their employers and could lose their jobs.

Paid leave policies, such as earned paid sick days and family and medical leave insurance, benefit workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole. Providing workers with paid sick days keeps sick workers at home, preventing contagion from spreading to other workers and customers, and giving them the time they need to fully recover and return to normal levels of productivity. In turn, this boosts businesses bottom lines by reducing turnover and the costs associated with training new employees.

Ensuring workers have paid time off to welcome a newborn, recover from childbirth, or deliver  extended medical care to a loved one provides yields similar economic benefits, along with keeping new parents attached to the workforce and earning higher wages in the years after having children than those that do not. Additionally, providing paid family leave to all workers, no matter the size of the business, helps level the playing field for small businesses that often have trouble matching the more generous leave policies of larger employers.