As someone who has gone without paid sick days at work, I understand how imperative it is that the state set a minimum standard for paid sick leave. Maine is one of only two states in New England that don’t require their employers to provide paid sick days. It is a shame how far behind we are on this issue.

I can remember numerous times when I went to work sick as a part-time sales associate. At the time, I was lucky enough to be able to live off my relatively small paychecks. Missing just one day of work, though, could be the difference between eating balanced meals every day and having nothing but ramen and bananas the last couple of days before a paycheck.

I’m glad that when I was sick, I only fitted and sold shoes. I know there are plenty of people in worse financial situations than I was who feel like they have to go into jobs where they handle food. Although the Food and Drug Administration recommends that food service workers don’t handle food while sick, I understand why some people would. Between the low wages and part-time schedules given to employees – so businesses can avoid providing benefits – a lot of people can’t afford to stay home when they’re sick.

It’s time for employers to do their part to keep Maine healthy, by paying sick employees to stay home. No hardworking person should feel compelled to clock in when they’re ill, and spread their germs to hundreds of customers.

Patrick Wienckowski

Portland


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