Workers should have paid sick days

To the Editor:

The Albany County Legislature is considering legislation (Local Law C) that would be unnecessary if the state legislature or the United State Congress had enacted it. This is the matter of workers receiving paid sick days.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that about 40 percent of people who work in Albany County do not have paid sick days. If correct, this is tens of thousands of workers.

Some of these workers are employed at large corporations or franchises where it would not be a burden for owners to provide such a benefit. Despite the hardships requiring paid sick days might impose on some small and tiny businesses, I urge the county legislature to enact this legislation.

No one should have to go to work when ill because they can not afford to take an unpaid day off or risk the loss of their jobs if they miss a scheduled day. No one should have to go to work when their child or spouse is ill and they really need to be home, providing care.  

Having paid sick days is an important public-health measure that many cities and nations recognize.  Would you want the workers who are preparing and serving you food to work when ill? Do you want health care providers to work when ill?

Many do. Working when ill often extends and intensifies the illness while putting co-workers at increased risk.

Some businesses have a two-tier employment structure: Full-time workers receive benefits; others working part-time or fluctuating hours do not receive benefits. The proposed legislation would allow all workers to gradually accrue paid sick days regardless of the number of hours worked per week.

The legislature will hold a public hearing on this matter on Tuesday, May 29, at 7:15 p.m. on the second floor of the Albany County Courthouse on Eagle Street in downtown Albany. The legislature meets on the second Monday of each month with public comments scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. The next two monthly meetings are on June 11 and July 9.  The legislation may be voted on at the July meeting.

Tom Ellis


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