Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paid Sick Days are Good for the Economy

Professors Marc Levine and Michael Rosen recently wrote an eloquent opinion-editorial in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel supporting paid sick days for workers. The professors skillfully argued that a policy of paid sick days benefits the economy. They noted the positive impact of San Francisco's paid sick days ordinance.

Opponents say requiring paid sick days is a worthy objective but not economically viable. Some have invoked the recession as a reason to oppose it.

But these opponents offer the same discredited methodology and arguments that low-road employers have used historically in opposing child labor laws, minimum wage, workers compensation, clean air regulations and virtually every other labor standard this nation has adopted. Each time the opposition characterized the new labor or community standard as a job killer. And after each standard was established, the business community adapted, the economy grew and our country, its workers and their families were better for it.

In the 1990s, business lobbyists used a similar argument to oppose raising the minimum wage. But after states and even cities raised wages above the national minimum, economists found the Chicken Little scenarios did not occur: Incremental increases did not increase unemployment or cause minimum wage-paying firms to lay people off. Those state and local victories paved the way for advances on the national level.

Facing similar dire warnings, San Francisco enacted a paid sick leave ordinance in 2007. However, despite an economic downturn affecting all counties in the Bay Area, San Francisco maintained a competitive job growth rate that exceeded the average rate of nearby counties.

To read the complete opinion-editorial, click here.

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