The government has been encouraging people to stay home from work if they have any flu-like symptoms just in case it turns out to be the swine flu.
It makes sense. They don’t want the flu to spread. But unfortunately, the politicians are encouraging the wrong people.
If you want workers to stay home when they’re sick you should be talking to employers not employees. Hellloooooo!
First off, I can’t tell you how many people are working their butts off right now, putting aside vacation plans or illnesses, because they’re being asked to do more by their bosses and they’re in fear of losing their jobs.
Employers are also cutting the number of paid sick days they provide.
And, let’s not forget the poor saps with nada. A huge number of Americans do not get paid sick time even though almost every labor and business expert in the country thinks it makes economic sense.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly half the work force has no paid sick days. For low-income workers, that figure is three out of four. It’s seven out of eight for food service workers.
There are many states contemplating mandatory paid sick time laws, but in this economy it’s going to be a tough legislative sell.
So, let’s think before we talk all you people in government who for some reason lose touch with reality when you go to Washington. If you’re going to give workers a wag of the finger if they don’t stay home when they start coughing up a lung, make sure you wag at employers too.
UPDATE — Maybe great minds think alike. I just got this statement on paid time off from Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families:
“We all fervently hope that officials are able to quickly bring the swine flu outbreak under control in the United States, Mexico and around the world. But that will happen more quickly if people can follow the advice of the health experts and government officials who are trying to contain this potential pandemic. Unfortunately, in the United States today, too many cannot.
Yesterday, officials at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said: ‘This is a serious event… If you have a fever and you’re sick or your children are sick, don’t go to work and don’t go to school.’
That’s good advice but, unfortunately, nearly half of private sector workers in the United States don’t have a single paid sick day. The same is true for nearly four in five low wage workers. And nearly 100 million workers don’t have a paid sick day they can use to care for a sick child. For them, staying home means losing pay and, perhaps, losing their job. In this economy, that’s a terrible choice to have to make.
We can do better by passing the Healthy Families Act, a modest bill that would let workers accrue up to seven paid sick days a year that they could use to recover from illness or care for a sick family member. It’s simple, it’s smart, and it’s a basic workplace standard. But in the past, the Healthy Families Act has been the subject of specious attacks by organized business interests.
The legislation will be re-introduced shortly. It deserves support from every Member of Congress, now more than ever.”
ALSO ON CAREERDIVA’S AGENDA TODAY: Equal pay.
Today is national Equal Pay Day, put together by women’s groups.
It’s a time for us to reflect on how screwed women and minorities still are when it comes to equal pay. Well, maybe that’s not exactly what the day is supposed to be about, but what the heck.
The gap is shrinking a bit, according to a government report out today.
Among those who usually worked full time during the first quarter of 2009, women’s median weekly earnings were 79 percent those of men. That implies that the catch-up clock for them rings at about 10:38 a.m. on Tuesdays (assuming a standard five-day week and eight-hour day starting at 8 a.m.).
Some women earn less than men because they choose less lucrative occupations or take more time out from employment. But a 2003 Government Accountability Office study controlling statistically for these factors showed that women’s average pay between 1983 and 2000 flat-lined at about 80 percent of men’s over the entire period.
This glum trend conceals some interesting variations. In a new study being released Tuesday, the G.A.O. (Government Accountability Office) reports that women working for the federal government have improved their relative position. In 2007, they earned 89 percent of what their male counterparts did (compared with 72 percent in 1988). Controlling statistically for occupation and employment experience increases that estimate to 93 percent of men’s earnings.
This implies that the catch-up clock for them rings on Monday at 2 p.m. (assuming they take an hour off for lunch).
The GAO findings will be part of a Congressional hearing today by the Joint Economic Committee.
I’ll update this blog if anything of substance comes out of it. Don’t hold your breath though.
UPDATE — Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from IOWA, just “introduced the Fair Pay Act of 2009 to address the wage gap for jobs of equal value among men and women. This legislation would address the historic pattern of undervaluing and underpaying so-called ‘women’s’ jobs, by calling for similar wages for similar working conditions regardless of gender.”
AND COMING WEDNESDAY ON CAREERDIVA: The Obama Administrations first 100 days — What the heck have they meant for the average working stiff?
I’ll have labor experts from around the country weigh in, so tune in tomorrow.
I know I’m throwing a lot of stuff at you today, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on one or all of these topics:
Do you take time off when you’re sick, especially now?
Do you think women and minorities will ever close the pay gap?
And, what, if anything, do you think Obama has done for working people thus far?