Sick days should be available to all

Ald. Will Burns (4th)
Ald. Will Burns (4th)

By ALD. WILL BURNS (4TH)

The vast majority of middle class workers in Chicago earn paid sick days. It’s something many of us take for granted. So much so, that it’s hard to imagine an employer who doesn’t offer paid sick days.

But the truth is that a disproportionate number of hourly workers and low-income workers are not offered paid sick days from their employer. That means when those employees get sick, they face the unpleasant choice between getting healthy or earning a day’s pay. If a family member or child is ill, the employee must decide between taking care of a loved one or reporting to work.

Without paid sick leave, hourly workers routinely report to work ill, further jeopardizing their health, the health of their co-workers and the clients and customers they serve.

Without paid sick leave, guardians are unable to stay home from work to care for their sick children without sacrificing a day’s wages, or worse, their job.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) has introduced an ordinance that requires most employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. I am a co-sponsor of the ordinance along with 25 other aldermen.

Simply said, this is not a perk. Paid sick leave is something every working person is entitled to. And, these sick days must be earned — employees would only be provided with sick days commensurate with their time on the job.

Under the ordinance employees may only earn up to nine paid sick days per year, and unused sick days would not roll over from year to year.

This ordinance is a floor, not a ceiling. It does not limit other generous benefits employers can offer.

Low-income Chicago workers should have access to paid sick days just like their middle class counterparts.