Health

Story by Dave Phillips

September 19, 2017

Time to Care

For too many Michigan workers, an illness like the flu or a fever presents a difficult decision: take a day without pay to rest and seek a doctor or spend a miserable day at work and risk spreading illness to ensure a full paycheck.

This is a no-win situation, but there is a solution.

We’re part of MI Time To Care, a coalition aiming to put a proposal on the November 2018 ballot that would make this dilemma a thing of the past. Under this proposal, all Michigan workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Depending on their size, employers would be required to provide either 40 or 72 hours of sick leave per employee per year.

We work every day to improve Health, Economic Prosperity and Education for everyone in our community. This measure would have positive impact on all three areas. Workers who can take time to care for themselves have an improved level of health and don’t run the risk of losing their job due to an illness. Their children are able to get a better education when they can rest and recover while sick rather than suffer through a school day.

That’s why we’re gathering signatures to put this proposal on the ballot, and once we collect the required signatures, we’ll advocate to get it passed in November 2018.

“We all get sick, but we don’t all have the time to get better,” said United Way for Southeastern Michigan Public Policy Director Kyle DuBuc.

“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between sending a sick child to school and missing a day’s pay. No one should lose their job because of a 48-hour flu. A guarantee of earned paid sick time would improve financial stability and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers.”

Forty-seven percent of Michigan’s private sector employees don’t have access to paid sick time. Nationwide, that number is 35 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These workers are often forced to send sick children to school, where they spread their illness and cause other children to get sick, and in turn, miss school. Many of these employees work in the food service industry, as home health aides or as child care providers. When they work sick, they risk spreading illness to vulnerable members of the community.

In addition to helping families throughout our region, allowing sick people to seek care when they need it rather than put it off and make their illness worse will eliminate an estimated 1.3 million emergency room visits each year. As a result, individuals, insurers and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid would see a combined annual $1.1 billion in savings.

The MI Time to Care ballot committee is a coalition of organizations including United Way, Economic Justice Association of Michigan, Mothering Justice, Michigan League for Public Policy, Michigan United and Restaurant Opportunities Center.

To learn more about these efforts, and to help, click here.