Portland’s proposed paid sick day ordinance has great appeal. It encourages people to stay healthy so they don’t pass on their illnesses. It relieves employee stress, allowing them the time to handle health concerns, which prevents illness, and it keeps workers out of the workplace so co-workers and customers do not get sick.

The New York Times has reported that 50 percent of workers at restaurants and hospitals go to work sick, making these sites vectors for infection. In cities with paid sick leave, the spread of disease is slowed, according to researchers.

The Centers for Disease Control estimated that 1,500 deaths occurred during the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic because employees went to work with the flu. Other studies have found workplaces with paid sick leave see fewer accidents and people who work while sick have higher rates of heart attacks.

The Center for American Progress cites research showing that paid sick leave boosts productivity and reduces job separation and turnover.

“One-third of employers nationwide report that presenteeism is a problem in their organizations. The costs of presenteeism … have been shown to be greater than the cost of absence,” the center reports. “Using the American Productivity Audit, researchers found that $160 billion per year – or more than 70 percent of the total cost of health-related lost productive time – is lost due to reduced productivity at work. … Paid sick days may also reduce absenteeism by reducing the duration of illness.”

Paid sick leave is the right thing to do, reduces costs all around and will make all of us feel healthier. Let your City Council member know you support paid sick leave and go to the hearing at 5:30 p.m. April 2 at City Hall.

Ginny Schneider

Portland