Blog by Jonathan Kantrowitz

4/23/2010

Paid Sick Legislation Was Urged on Pay Equity Day (April 20) as Critical to Women’s Economic Security

A new report released this week from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) in Washington, D.C., shows that implementing a paid sick leave bill would actually save Connecticut businesses nearly $73 million each year. IWPR and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) released the report in conjunction with Pay Equity Day because paid sick day benefits are considered a critical companion to equal pay in eliminating workplace discrimination and ensuring women’s economic security.

Calculated weekly, IWPR estimates that the cost per covered worker would be just .19 cents per hour worked (or $6.87 per week), which is minimal, considering that the benefit to employers would be $12.32 weekly, for a net savings per worker of $5.45. According to the study, funded by the Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, universal paid sick days such as those being proposed in Senate Bill 63, would mean that the cost of implementing paid sick days would be far outstripped by a large reduction in costs associated with employee turnover.

The report, “Valuing Good Health in Connecticut: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days,” authored by Dr. Kevin Miller, estimates businesses would save nearly $165 million in reduced workforce turnover and the prevention of communicable diseases such as influenza. Actual costs to businesses of wages, wage-based benefits, payroll taxes and administrative expenses associated with paid sick leave would total about $92 million, leaving a net savings of $73 million.

“Women continue to be the main caregivers in their families and therefore tend to lose more work time in order to care for a sick child or elderly relative, which increases workplace insecurity,” said Teresa Younger, executive director of the PCSW, a 37-year-old, non-partisan public policy arm of the Connecticut General Assembly. “This new study is more proof that it’s in the best interest of companies to allow dedicated workers to care for their own health, and the health of their families. This report shows that abuses of paid sick leave are minimal – half of all workers currently with paid sick days do not take off any time for illness in a given. Clearly, the majority of people who take time off when they are ill are not only preventing the spread of disease, but are also coming back to their jobs more productive and ready for work.”

“Our research has repeatedly found that the monetary benefits of implementing paid sick days policies substantially defray and even outweigh the costs of implementing such policies,” IWPR’s Kevin Miller said in recent testimony before the Labor and Public Employees Committee. The General Assembly is now considering S.B. 63: An Act Mandating Employers Provide Paid Sick Leave to Employees.

Currently, about 553,000 Connecticut workers lack paid sick days, and of those, fewer than half (257,000) would be covered by the proposed law and would receive new paid sick days under the proposed law.

Key provisions of the proposed paid sick days law (SB 63)

_ Workers (both full and part-time) at businesses with 50 or more employees would accrue paid sick time up to a maximum of 5 paid sick days (40 hours) per year, usable after 120 days of employment.

_ Paid sick time may be used for diagnosis or treatment of a worker’s or child’s health condition or for preventive care, or to address the effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

About the PCSW: The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women was formed in 1973 under Sec. 46a of the Connecticut General Statutes to study “all matters concerning women, and in furtherance of that responsibility shall: (a) inform leaders of business, education, State and local governments and the communications media of the nature and scope of the problem of sex discrimination, with a view to enlisting their support in working toward improvement; (b) serve as a liaison between government and private interest groups concerned with services for women; (c) promote consideration of qualified women for all levels of government positions; (d) oversee coordination and assess programs and practices in all State agencies as they affect women.”

Original Article