April 12, 2016
Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors
[Docket No. 2016-03722]
The Patient, Consumer, and Public Health Coalition is an informal coalition of nonprofit organizations representing the interests of patients, consumers, health-care professionals, scientists, and public health experts. As members of the coalition, we strongly support the proposed rule (Federal Register Docket #2016-03722) based on President Obama’s Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors, which requires that employees that work on federal contracts are entitled to earn at least seven days or 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.
The federal government provides paid sick leave to its employees, but not those who work indirectly for the federal government as contractors. This rule would extend sick leave for an estimated 828,000 employees, including providing paid sick leave for the estimated 437,000 that currently do not receive any. Currently, these men and women must choose between getting a pay check (and possibly retaining their job) and taking the time off to recover from an illness, get preventative care, or care for a family member.
Paid sick leave improves health and productivity of employees. It enables those who have physical or mental illnesses to take the time to recover when sick, to get preventative care, to deal with injuries, and to care for sick or injured family members. At the same time, it reduces the chances that their work colleagues will become sick as a result of their contagious illnesses. For all those reasons it results in greater productivity in the work place.
Paid sick leave improves community health as well. Employees that cannot afford to take an unpaid sick day unwillingly expose co-workers, clients, and even those they are in contact with on public transportation or other public places to their illness. When employees’ ill children cannot stay home from school, they also expose classmates. Enabling employees to stay home when sick reduces the transmission of illnesses throughout the community.
Providing paid sick leave also helps employers. Besides reducing productivity loss due to the spread of illness through the workforce and “presenteeism” losses1, 2, research shows that paid sick leave increases employee retention and overall productivity3. It also reduces the likelihood of workplace injuries4.
The benefits of paid sick leave for communities are well established and currently 5 states, 22 cities, and one county have passed laws requiring paid sick leave. A study of six of these jurisdictions found that these laws have not hurt most businesses in the region nor the local economy5.
In conclusion, paid sick day policies like those in the Department of Labor’s proposed rule will save employers, taxpayers and families money, and promote healthier workplaces and communities. We urge you to proceed with implementation without delay.
American Medical Women’s Association
Annie Appleseed Project
Breast Cancer Action
MRSA Survivors Network
National Center for Health Research
National Consumers League
National Organization for Women
National Women’s Health Network
Our Bodies Ourselves
Washington Advocates for Patient Safety
The Patient, Consumer, and Public Health Coalition can be reached through Paul Brown at (202) 223-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Kumar, S., Grefenstette, J. J., Galloway, D., Albert, S. M. & Burke, D. S. (2013). Policies to Reduce Influenza in the Workplace: Impact Assessments Using an Agent-Based Model. American Journal of Public Health. 103(8), 1406-1411. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3893051
2 Johns, G. (2010) Presenteeism in the workplace: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 31, 519-542. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/job.630/epdf
3 Hill, H. D. (2013). Paid Sick Leave and Job Stability. Work and Occupations. 40(2), 143-173. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3825168
4 Asfaw, A., Pana-Cryan, R. & Rosa, R. (2012). Paid Sick Leave and Nonfatal Occupational Injuries. American Journal of Public Health, 102(9), e59-e64. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482022
5 National Partnership for Women & Families. (2015, November). Paid Sick Days: Low Cost, High Reward for Workers, Employers and Communities. Retrieved March 2, 2016, from www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/psd/paid-sickdays-low-cost-high-reward.pdf