Paid Sick Days
Paid sick time is the hours that workers accrue in a given work year to use to take care of themselves and their loved ones for health and medical conditions. Typical laws can guarantee workers the ability to earn up to 9 days worth of paid sick time in a year. Estimates show that 43 to 48 million workers in the US do not have access to earned sick time. Women of color are disproportionately represented in job sectors that are less likely to provide paid sick days, such as domestic work, retail, and restaurant industries. Twenty-five percent of workers have been threatened with job loss after taking time off to care for themselves or to navigate the consequences of domestic violence or sexual assault. Low-wage workers often don’t have the time they need to access medical care and navigate other services when they experience domestic or sexual violence.
Question: What, if anything, would you do to ensure that workers don’t have to choose between taking care of themselves or their families and their job (including any type of legislative solutions)?
Paid Family and Medical Leave
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off to bond with a new child, address a worker’s own serious illness, or care for a seriously ill family member. Federal law does not require that workers receive paid family leave for these purposes. Three states, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, have passed laws guaranteeing paid family leave to workers. Only five states, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and New York, have passed laws guaranteeing temporary disability insurance – or financial support to workers with off-the-job illnesses or injuries (including pregnancy and recovery from childbirth).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12% of private-sector workers in the United States receive paid family leave from their employer to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. Low-wage workers have lower access to paid family leave, with only 5% of workers in the lowest quarter of wage earners (who are predominantly women and men of color) receiving paid family leave from an employer. Only 37% of workers – and 18% of workers in the lowest quarter of wage earners – have personal medical leave through an employer-provided short-term disability program.
Research suggests that many workers – and particularly LGBTQ workers – have a need for paid family and medical leave. In addition to an increased risk of cancer, LGBTQ Americans have shown high incidence of chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and HIV/AIDS. American Indian and Latino/a transgender people are parenting or financially supporting a child at higher rates than the transgender population as a whole. Furthermore, Black and Latino/a LGBTQ couples are more likely to be raising children and struggling financially than White LGBTQ couples.
Question: How, if at all, would you respond to these figures on paid family leave access (including any type of legislative solutions)?
Family Definition in Workplace Leave
America’s families are changing. While many policies define "family" according to the nuclear family model of a married mother and father and their biologically related children, the 2010 US Census revealed that 79.8% of our country's families do not look like that. Approximately 1 in 4 Latinos, African-Americans, and Asians live in multigenerational households, and 1 in 5 households in the US with children include nonrelatives or relatives other than the child’s parents and siblings. LGBTQ-identified seniors in the U.S. are twice as likely as heterosexual seniors to live alone and more than four times as likely to be childless – thus relying on families of choice who are not legally or biologically related, but have close relationships that are equivalent to family. Many workers do not have access to paid sick time or paid family leave to care for a family member, and if they do, the definition of "family" in these policies may be narrow.
Question: How, if at all, would you respond to family definitions in public policy (including any type of legislative solutions)?
Among low-wage hourly workers in jobs with standard (Monday through Friday, daytime) schedules, approximately 51% of full-time workers and 42% of part-time workers report having very little or no control over their work schedules. Approximately two-thirds of hourly, low-wage, full-time workers in jobs with standard schedules and three-quarters of full-time workers in jobs with nonstandard (other than Monday through Friday, daytime) schedules have no choice regarding their start or end times. Research has shown that such scheduling makes arranging child care a struggle. Among a representative sample of early-career adults aged 26 to 32 years, approximately 90% of food service workers and 87% of retail workers reported that their hours varied in the past month, and 64% of food service workers and 50% of retail workers reported knowing their schedule a week or less in advance. Moreover, Black and Latino workers were more likely than White workers to only know their schedule a week or less in advance.
Question: How, if at all, would you respond to such scheduling inflexibility and unpredictability (including any type of legislative solutions)?
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