Hands Off Our Paid Sick Days, NO H.R. 4219!
On July 24, members of Congress will hear corporate lobbyists pitch H.R. 4219, a bill to incentivize more employers to offer paid time off and flexible work schedules. The incentive? The right to ignore state and local laws related to paid sick time and flexible work schedules.
Simply put, H.R. 4219, deceptively named “WorkFlex in the 21st Century Act,” gives the boss the power to decide when, whether, for what reason and at what cost employees can use any time offered. It would undermine protections already won in 44 jurisdictions across the country. All the evidence shows these laws are beneficial for workers and their families, public health and the economy.
Nearly 15 million people will newly have access to paid sick time as a result of these measures. Millions of others benefitted as well — many who worked for large corporations; they already had some paid time on paper but could not use it when or how they needed to. Below are excerpts from testimony sent to the Committee members hearing the bill that illustrate what’s at stake.
Therese, university staff, Oakland, NJ
Before the Paid Sick Leave law was passed, I was allowed to use only three of my annually accrued sick days for the care of my children when they are ill. Even though I work for the largest private employer in the city of Philadelphia, like most employers in the United States, they did not offer much support for working parents in the form of paid time off. As a result of the 2015 Philadelphia law, my company changed its policy to give me five sick days to care for my children each year. Those 48 hours have had an impact. As you know, when you have more than one small child in your home, they share everything, including illnesses…. I can’t understand why the federal government would want to change a law that has worked so well for me and my family.
Susan, grocery story worker, Portland, OR
I worked for the same grocery store for 15 years, and while I had some paid sick hours, I couldn’t actually use them until the 3rd day that I was sick. On top of that, I had to bring in a doctor’s note or else I would get in big trouble. I could not afford to lose 2 days’ pay, and I certainly couldn’t afford to go to the doctor on top of that. As a result, I went to work sick all the time… [O] ne year my son was being bullied and I had to take time off in order to work with the school. As a result… I was written up and told that I was on a slippery slope.
Kathy, office worker, Warwick, RI
When my abuser began stalking me, it became clear that keeping a job would be challenging. My abuser would sometimes wait outside my house for me at the time I needed to leave for work, physically prevent me from leaving my house or damage my car. I was consistently late and sometimes missed full days. I lost two jobs directly because of his interference…. Rhode Island’s paid sick and safe leave law allows victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to have the security of earned paid leave so they can access critical services without risking their jobs or financial well-being. Unfortunately, H.R. 4219 would put these hard-fought safety and public health protections in serious jeopardy, particularly for women workers.
Troy, food service worker, Reading PA
A few years ago, I was involved in a car accident. I wasn’t at fault, but it took a while for everything to get cleaned up. Because I wanted to be a good employee, I called my boss while I was still on the scene so they could start planning for my absence. My employer didn’t thank me for giving as much notice as possible. Instead, they reprimanded me for “being an inconvenience to business” — and threatened me with termination.
Renalda, hotel worker, New Brunswick, NJ
Once, when my daughter’s school called to let me know she was sick and needed to be picked up, the hotel manager allowed me to pick her up, but told me I had to finish cleaning my rooms. So I had no choice but to bring my daughter, with a fever and chills, to work with me. When I ended my shift, my daughter’s fever had gotten worse and she ended up in the hospital. Another time, I called work when my son woke up sick, but my manager told me to bring him in with me, and threatened if I didn’t, my hours would be cut.
Our elected officials need to listen to Therese, Susan, Kathy, Troy and Reynalda, rather than to lobbyists for wealthy corporations. It’s time to expand, not contract, protections for paid sick days and flexible schedules by passing the Healthy Families Act and the Schedules that Work Act, and vigorously opposing H.R. 4219.