Staying home sick isn't a viable option for many North Carolinians
As flu season is starting to pick up, staying home sick is not a viable option for many North Carolinians. A new Think NC First report shows the difficulties workers face without paid leave. Thirty-nine percent of private sector workers in North Carolina lack pad sick days, which means that about 1.2 million North Carolinians can’t call in sick without losing pay or possibly, their job. Paid sick days are more likely in high-paying white-collar jobs, meaning the less money you make, the less likely you are to have paid sick days.
If you literally can’t afford to miss a day of work, you’re much more likely to bring your illness into your workplace with you – or worse, send it into your child’s school. The thing is, paid sick days aren’t just about the workplace. Over two-thirds of North Carolina children under the age of 6 – prime “getting sick” years – live in homes where all available parents work. Not all of those parents can be home when their kids get sick. The average toddler gets sick between five and 10 times a year. As incomes keep trending down in North Carolina, far fewer working parents can afford to miss five to 10 workdays without pay.
The vast majority of Southern workers also lack paid family and medical leave. Unfortunately, that number doesn’t match the number of workers who will need that leave to care for a newborn or a family member suffering from a chronic illness.
In North Carolina alone, over one million people care for adult family members, partners or friends suffering from chronic illness. The majority of caregivers have been employed at some point during their caregiving experience. Without paid family leave, those family members have to choose between foregoing a paycheck to fulfill their caregiving needs and spending less time providing care for their family members.
The lack of paid leave access doesn’t affect all workers in the same degree. But it does cause three kinds of problems for North Carolina workers and their employers. It puts an undue economic burden on low-wage working families. It leaves communities vulnerable to public health issues – like an annual flu season. And it weakens the workplace through lost productivity and high turnover.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article44805426.html#storylink=cpy