Paid sick leave should be available for all workers. The proposal under consideration in Maine is a step in the right direction.

Many of the workers most in need of paid sick leave are in low-paying jobs: food, hotel and agriculture industries in particular. Many of these industries are dominated by huge corporations such as McDonald’s, Marriott and Walmart, which rely heavily on low-paid, part-time workers who do not receive sick leave.

Although many of these companies do not fire someone for being sick, the employees lose income if they stay home. When someone makes below a living wage, being docked for taking time off when ill is a hardship. These mega-companies should be mandated to provide sick leave.

Having said that, some small businesses would suffer if they had to provide paid sick leave. This bill does not address this issue, and it must.

A possible solution would be to provide affordable insurance that small businesses could buy to help provide the needed resources to pay for sick leave. Small businesses that fall under a certain income level could be exempt from buying the insurance but would be able to avail themselves of the resource. Providing this simple human right should never be a burden for employers. And it should definitely be available to all workers.

No one chooses to get ill. Coming to work sick, especially if contagious, is simply a health risk for all concerned. Having to choose between one’s health and paying bills should never be a choice.

This measure is not a left-wing conspiracy to bilk small-business owners. Workers who are treated with respect stay in their jobs. Healthy workers are more productive. Taking care of one’s health is not a partisan issue. It is a part of being human.

Jo Trafford

Portland


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