More than 670, 000 workers in Alabama, or 44.6 percent of the workforce, aren’t able to earn a single paid sick day, according to an analysis circulated in August by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The study focuses on individuals and industries most affected by the lack of paid sick days, including children, restaurant workers and low-wage workers and their families.
“Our nation’s failure to establish a paid sick days standard is harming people in Alabama and across the country, ” said organization President Debra Ness. “It is absolutely unacceptable that so many hardworking people and their families risk grave financial hardship if they get the flu, strep throat or another common illness because they cannot earn basic paid sick days, even after years at their jobs. Lawmakers at all levels need to look closely at what is at stake and take action.”
Twenty-four jurisdictions across the country already have, or will soon have, laws in place that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick time. Alabama is not one of them. According to the National Partnership’s fact sheet:
- More than 145, 000 people in Alabama work in restaurants — an industry in which, nationally, 90 percent of workers cannot earn paid sick days.
- The largest industry in Alabama is manufacturing. Nationally, more than one-third of workers in that industry cannot earn paid sick time.
- Overall, 35.6 percent of Alabama jobs are considered low wage, and few low-wage jobs allow workers to earn paid sick days.
- More than 700, 000 children in Alabama live in families in which all parents work, but parents with paid sick days often cannot use them to care for children.
Nationally, more than 43 million private sector workers — nearly 40 percent of the country’s workforce — cannot earn paid sick days. That number, the group says, has remained largely unchanged in recent years, despite a growing body of evidence that shows paid sick days benefit families, businesses and economies; and 85 percent of voters saying they want employers to provide paid sick time.
The National Partnership calls for paid sick leave standards at the state and national levels and supports the Healthy Families Act. More information can be found at PaidSickDays.org.
Text by Dave Helms