Paid sick leave in San Francisco

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What’s better than working sick?

As anyone who has been sick lately will tell you, it sucks to be sick. Depending on the illness there might be a lingering cough, a never-ending runny nose, aches and pains, or worse!  And worse might not be what you think.

For many Oregonians “worse” includes loss of pay, having to go to work sick, or even job loss. Worse also includes being unable to take time off to care for sick kids or family members or facing the threat of job loss for doing so. Even worse is that 40% of workers and 80% of low-income workers in Oregon struggle with these issues because they don’t have access to paid sick leave. But we need only look to San Francisco for a possible remedy.

In 2007 San Francisco became the first city in the United States to pass a paid sick leave ordinance. This allows all employees working in San Francisco to accrue sick leave based on the hours they work.  Employees can use their paid sick days to recover from their own illness, care for an ill family member, or for routine medical appointments. The law also made it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for taking sick days. What’s more, studies published since implementation have found paid sick days to be a success— for employees AND employers.

It might not be the cure for the common cold but it certainly makes it easier to properly care for illnesses when they come calling. Since the passage of the paid sick days ordinance in San Francisco, other ordinances have popped up in Washington D.C., the state of Connecticut, and, most recently, in Seattle.

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