As a former public school elementary classroom teacher, I vividly remember children coming to school sick with a fever, and as I took the child immediately to the school nurse, I was upset that a parent would not keep their child home.
As a parent myself, I would have simply taken a sick day and stayed home with my child. It was later that I learned the reason in most cases was that if a parent did not show up at the fast food restaurant or construction site, they would not get paid, and then they could not afford to pay all of their monthly household bills.
Workers and parents shouldn’t have to make such choices. People get sick – it is part of life. All workers, and all parents, need paid sick days. In Virginia, 41 percent of private-sector workers, that’s 1.2 million workers, have no paid sick days or paid time off. This is a relatively simple problem to address.
Sen. Barbara Favola, D-31st, and Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, have introduced bills to establish a paid sick day standard in Virginia. The bills would allow workers to earn up to five paid sick days per year, earned at the rate of one hour for every 30 worked.
Businesses with five or fewer employees would be exempt from the requirement, but hopefully many would adopt the standard, given its reasonableness. Paid sick days is a standard in every other industrialized nation in the world. Let’s make it a standard in Virginia.