A new study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research suggests that 44 percent of workers in California don’t have access to even one paid sick day a year. As you might expect, the availability of sick days correlates strongly with education level. If you have a cushy job or work for a generous hi-tech company, then your boss will probably pay you even for days when you call in sick. But if you’re in a low-paying profession? Then you probably don’t.That translates into just 19 percent of people in "food preparation and serving related" occupations having sick days—and since restaurant workers are disproportionately likely to live in near-poverty, few of them can afford to lose a day's pay to stay home sick. Yet despite the obvious public health implications of having sick restaurant workers sneezing all over the food they prepare and serve, the restaurant industry opposes paid sick leave.
If a second American state joins Connecticut and the cities that have passed sick leave in recent years, it would be a tremendous step forward for workers and yet another sign that this issue isn't going away. But the United States will still lag behind most of the rest of the world, and as long as Republicans control a house of Congress or are able to filibuster, we won't be able to catch up.