Making the case for paid sick timeSPRINGFIELD - Imagine waking up with a painful toothache that requires immediate dental attention. Or the stomach flu that has been going around the office.

If you have access to paid sick leave, you may not think twice about calling in sick and heading straight to the doctor.

But for many of the more than 42 percent of private-sector employees in Illinois who do not receive a single paid sick day, these scenarios force a difficult decision between going to work sick or missing work, losing out on needed earnings and facing the possibility of losing their job.  

“We are the only industrialized country to not offer any sort of paid sick leave to our workforce,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said.

Hutchinson sponsored a bill this session that would have provided up to seven paid sick days per year to full and part-time employees in Illinois. While that bill did not make it out of the Senate Executive Committee, the issue has resurfaced this summer and was the topic of today’s Senate Committee of the Whole hearing.

Gail Hamilton, a home health care worker, testified in today’s committee today about the importance of paid sick leave to her.

“I have had multiple occasions where I had to call out-of-town family members when my daughter was sick,” Hamilton said. “Your child looks at you like you don’t love them enough to stay home when they are sick. It’s not that we don’t love them enough, it’s that we don’t have the ability to stay at home because we still have to buy food, pay for car insurance and just overall get by.”

Hamilton was joined by professors in economics and by Melissa Josephs, Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at Women Employed, in highlighting the importance paid sick leave has on not just workers but employers as well.

Numerous studies have shown the direct benefit offering workers paid sick leave has on employers, including a workforce that is overall healthier and more productive.

“With Congress dragging its feet on the issues facing middle-class families, it is up to us to pick up the slack,” Hutchinson said.

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