Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

Push for Paid Sick Days in Tacoma: For Public Health and Business

 

April 8, 2010



TACOMA, Wash. - A citizens coalition is working to push the City of Tacoma to become the fourth in the nation to adopt a paid sick day law. The Healthy Tacoma Coalition will hold a roundtable meeting today to hear from the community and to discuss what they say are the benefits to public health and business of allowing workers in all businesses to earn paid time off in the event of illness.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, says four out of 10 workers in Washington State have no paid time off if they call in sick.

"If they stay home, they lose that day's pay, and oftentimes they also get disciplined in the workplace for calling in sick. So, that's something that we want to change."

Opponents argue requiring companies to provide paid sick days could results in job losses, especially during a recession, but Watkins says that is not what happened in San Francisco, one of the three cities requiring sick pay.

"Customers are happier because of it. They get better service; they're not afraid of getting sick themselves; and so it's something that actually increases profitability for businesses."

Currently, only San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Milwaukee have laws requiring paid sick days. Proponents are focusing on the service industry, including restaurants, which generally offer no sick day pay. After the law passed in San Francisco, the restaurant sector reportedly weathered the downturn in the economy better than restaurants in surrounding counties that did not offer paid sick days.

The Community Roundtable takes place at Kings Books on Saint Helens Avenue and starts at 11:00 a.m.

 

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