Today, 1.6 million Michiganders have no access to paid sick time at work. This puts the health and economic stability of families and children at risk.
But that could soon change. Today, United Way, joined a group of nonprofit partners as part of the MI Time to Care campaign, which submitted more than 375,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in support of a new law that would ensure every Michigan worker has the ability to earn paid sick time.
“When people are forced to choose between going to work sick and being able to pay the bills, or when working parents have to choose between sending a sick child to school or losing their job, it’s harmful to our families and our region as a whole,” said Dr. Deirdre Young, vice president of Health & Equity at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “This is the reality for too many workers and their families, but it’s something we can fix.”
Once the signatures are verified and the petition approved by the state, the legislature can either enact the proposal or place it on the ballot for the voters to decide in November. If passed, the measure would ensure that all Michigan workers earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum number of hours depending on the size of the employer.
Six states have already enacted earned paid sick time requirements, as have several major cities and counties across the country.
Kyle DuBuc, director of Advocacy & Government Relations at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, spoke to the positive economics of the policy, “This isn’t a new concept. We’ve seen paid sick time enacted around the country with great success, and the educational, economic and health benefits are clear.”
Every day, United Way works to improve the Education, Economic Prosperity and Health outcomes for everyone in our community, and this measure would have an immediate and measurable positive impact in all three of these areas.
The majority of child care providers and home health aides do not have access to paid sick time, encouraging them to go to work sick and put our most vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly, at risk. Lack of paid sick time also leads to individuals waiting to go to the doctor until they are so sick they need extensive emergency care.
Universal access to paid sick days would eliminate an estimated 1.3 million emergency room visits each year, saving $1.1 billion annually in costs to individuals, private insurers, and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
“This is exactly the kind of substantive, meaningful change that we advocate for,” Kyle added, “and if passed, it will immediately improve the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of Southeastern Michigan workers and their families.