Is Seattle ready for a paid sick days law? In Seattle 42% of the workforce has no paid sick leave. Far more alarming is the fact that in Seattle, 78% of restaurant workers, 55% of retail workers, and 29% of health care workers do not have paid sick leave. The increased likelihood of spreading contagious diseases is something workers and employers should be very concerned with. Rising health care costs combined with a sickened workforce is bad business for all employers.
Paid sick days benefits would create a healthier and more secure Seattle workforce. It would ensure that workers could stay home when they are sick without losing a day’s pay. When sick workers are forced to go to work they not only increase their own healthcare care expenses but those of their coworkers. Sick workers cost employers productivity and spread disease. For workers in the services industry, like restaurant workers and grocery store cashiers, they risk making the public sick as well. In Washington State most workers in the food service industry or those working directly with the public have no access to paid sick leave.
The workforce segregation resulting in women working mostly in health care services, child care, and retail in Washington means that women take the brunt of the consequences of having no access to paid sick leave. The lack of paid sick leave is particularly troubling for working mothers. When working mothers cannot afford to take a day off to care for a sick child that child is oftentimes forced to go to school, spreading disease to other children and teachers.