Last week I found myself sick. I had a fever, sore, cough, and drained. I decided I should take a few days off and stay in bed. I had the luxury of being able to enjoy that time off as a small business owner. There are many that do not have such a luxury. Many do not have the chance to stay home with their sick child or take off because they themselves are sick. And this is a problem that sets America apart from the rest of the industrialized world.
We sit with Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Chad, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland, Somalia, India, Bhutan, North Korea, South Korea and Suriname. The rest of the world requires paid sick leave.
The most shocking diagram comes from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in their paper “United States Lags World in Paid Sick Days for Workers and Families.
This paper alone made me realize the implications our inaction on paid sick days has on not just families and workers, but those with cancer. The average amount of time missed to undergo cancer treatment is 50 days. While every other country gives some time off, and we find ourselves in line with Syria on paid sick leave, we do nothing for our cancer patients. With a cold you can come into the office and get everyone sick, but with cancer, we as a nation have decided to turn our backs.
We have much work to do to pass legislation nationally, but we have a chance in Montclair and Trenton to join the other towns in New Jersey that are passing Earned Sick Leave legislation on November 4th.