What it left out, however, was a discussion of how this issue disproportionately impacts women, who have always shouldered more of the responsibility nursing sick children and relatives back to health. Moreover, taking sick leave is especially challenging for low-income women, who are already confronting a number of other barriers to their economic stability and work-place flexibility.
Robert Blendon, of the
- They have no access to paid sick leave.
- They feel pressure from their employer to go to work, regardless of their health.
For women living in poverty—who are disproportionately women of color and single mothers—the situation is bleaker. Three out of every four of these women sacrifices a day of pay for their own or a family member’s health.
Some cities and states have proposed legislation to guarantee paid sick leave to workers, but a piecemeal approach will not protect workplace safety and alleviate employee anxiety at the pace that our struggling economy demands.
A comprehensive, national response—like that proposed by Senator Ted Kennedy and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Healthy Families Act—would have a uniquely positive impact on economic stability and job security of low-income women, single-mothers, and women of color and their families. A Ms. Foundation grantee partner and proponent of the bill, the MultiState Working Families Consortium, recently published this report discussing the need for family-friendly legislation.
As we at the Ms. Foundation have seen time and again, addressing the needs and prioritizing the solutions of low-income women and women of color lays the foundation for policy improvements that benefit workers and communities across the board.