At Consultation: Economic Justice Means Paid Sick Days

April 13, 2015
At the Consultation on Conscience on April 26-28, 2015, you will have the opportunity to learn about and take action on paid sick days by asking your members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act (S. 497/H.R. 932). Over 40 million Americans do not currently have access to paid sick days, and we need to pass the Healthy Families Act to ensure that more people do not have to make the difficult choice between going to work and caring for a sick loved one, or for themselves. This legislation would allow workers in businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to seven days of job-protected paid sick leave each year. Workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. People working in a business with fewer than 15 employees would be able to earn up to seven job-protected days of unpaid sick leave annually. Here are three important reasons why we must pass the Healthy Families Act:
  1. Adults without paid sick days are 1.5 times more likely than adults who have paid sick days at work to report going to work with a contagious illness, like the flu or a virus, which also makes them more likely to infect others.
  1. Paid sick days would also reduce turnover and thereby save employers money: the cost of replacing workers often exceeds the cost of having paid sick days policies to retain current workers. Paid sick days policies would also increase productivity: if workers had seven paid sick days a year, our national economy would have $160 billion annually in net savingsbecause of reduced turnover and increased efficiency.
  2. Paid sick days would also help caregivers manage their caregiving responsibilities as well as the jobs that they need to support their families. There are 66 million adults who are unpaid caregivers for their family members or for their friends, and this number is growing. Having a paid sick days policy would help relieve a significant stress or burden on these caretakers.
At one of our Sunday workshops at the Consultation on Conscience on issues of economic inequality, Vicki Shabo, Vice President at the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF), will be discussing the landscape of issues related to paid sick days at the national and local level. She leads NPWF’s work on issues such as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, expansion and enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), workplace flexibility, fair pay and pregnancy discrimination. The workshop will be on Sunday, April 26, at 3:30 pm. We need to speak up for the millions of Americans who do not have paid sick days. We are taught that “one who withholds an employee’s wages is as though he deprived him of his life” (Baba Metzia 112a). Indeed, in the case of paid sick days, a worker’s pay is directly tied to his/her well-being. These values have inspired the URJ to offer paid sick days to its own employees. For more information about the RAC’s involvement in advocating for paid sick days, read this Op-Ed published in Roll Call by Deputy Director Rachel Laser that described the economic, societal and moral imperative of introducing and passing the Healthy Families Act or RAC Director Rabbi Jonah Pesner’s statement on the Healthy Families Act’s reintroduction. You can also check out the RAC’s Economic Justice page. Whether or not you’ll be joining us at the Consultation, you can take action today: urge your senators and representatives to support the Healthy Families Act. Learn more about the Consultation on Conscience – including registration and our livestream – at

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