7 days, 7 ways to help 700,000 Marylanders
The deadline is closing in for Governor Larry Hogan to act on the Healthy Working Families Act, one of the most closely watched bills of the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. At the same time, there’s been a revived national debate around health care, offering an important reminder that earned paid sick days lead to happier, healthier communities.
“Too many families know all too well that even if you are lucky enough to have affordable health care, it’s not always possible to access that health care if you cannot afford to take a day off to see a doctor,” said Liz Richards, Director of the Working Matters Coalition. “It benefits all of us to ensure that people can stay at home when they’re sick instead of risking infecting their coworkers and even their customers. Governor Hogan has the power to make this smart policy change for a stronger, healthier Maryland by signing HB1”
Day 4: HB1 addresses public health threat, saving costs and leading to healthier Maryland families
A study released this year found that US workers without paid sick leave are more likely to forego preventive health care. “Our findings demonstrate that even when insured adults are provided with free preventive screenings, paid sick leave is a significant factor associated with actually using the screenings,” said researchers. “American workers risk foregoing preventive health care, which could lead to the need for medical care at later stages of disease progression and at higher cost for workers and the American health care system as a whole.”
That was the case for Paul Brown, a security officer in Baltimore, MD, who stated in testimony before the Maryland House Economic Matters committee that HB1 could have prevented the conditions that led to his heart attack a few years ago. “I had to ignore my body’s advance warnings that a heart attack was in my future. That’s because I can’t afford to miss a day’s pay to take time off, even when I feel very ill,” said Brown. “I believe it got that bad because I couldn’t go to the doctor to treat those symptoms.”
But the dangers of a lack of earned paid sick days extend beyond the threat to individual health – a workforce that is unable to afford to stay home when they are ill is a threat to public health at large. That was the message Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, delivered in her testimony for HB1. “A contagious employee working through an illness puts coworkers, clients and patrons at risk,” stated Dr. Wen. “With the security to take paid time off without fear of loss of income or position, employees will be more likely to stay home and return to work when they are no longer contagious.” The threat to public health in Maryland is clear:
- Nearly 80% of Marylanders working in food preparation and serving industries are unable to earn a single paid sick day.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infected food service workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food.
- A study by the Restaurant Opportunities Center found that more than 63% of all restaurant workers reported cooking and serving food while sick.
It’s time for Governor Hogan to address this serious public health threat and sign the Healthy Working Families Act.
Follow updates at www.earnedsickdaysmd.org and stay tuned for Hogan Watch Day 5 tomorrow.
Everyone gets sick, but in State of Maryland, not everyone has the time to get better. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB1) would allow over 700,000 Marylanders without any earned sick leave the ability to take time off work to care for their families when illness strikes. The result of five years of compromise and careful deliberation with stakeholders at all levels, HB1 would allow 488,000 Marylanders working at businesses with 15 employees or more to earn paid sick days, and allow another 216,000 working at businesses with less than 15 employees to earn unpaid sick time with job protection.
#7days7ways #HoganWatch #SignHB1