In periods of economic uncertainty, it is vitally important that we do all we can to preserve the economic security and economic opportunities for Maine workers. Unfortunately, many Maine workplaces lack adequate paid sick leave policies. According to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only about 59 percent of Maine workers have paid sick days. The remaining 41 percent, or approximately 246,000 Mainers, do not have a paid leave policy that allows them to remain at home while they or their immediate family members are sick. Equally troubling is the numbers of Mainers in crucial industries that lack sick day policies: 75% of construction workers, 78% of those employed in accommodation and food services, and 48% of workers in manufacturing, a traditional cornerstone of Maine’s economy, do not have any paid sick leave.
For Maine to recover from this recession and chart a path toward prosperity, all Maine workers need paid sick leave. The greater economic security and job stability paid sick leave provides workers yields greater productivity and increased economic activity. This increased economic activity comes from increased spending that results from greater confidence in one’s own economic situation and potential future earnings.
Employers benefit as well. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that a paid sick leave policy net saves approximately $2.28 per worker per week after costs are considered. Adjusted for inflation, the $2.28 figure is $2.45 in 2009 dollars. Although the provisions of LD 1665 do not exactly mirror the policy provisions underpinning the IWPR analysis,1 it is clear that paid sick leave creates substantial savings for employers and has positive economic benefits.
LD 1665 gives workers the right to remain at home when they or their family members are sick. Such a policy is not only needed from a public health perspective and is not only morally right, a paid sick leave policy is needed because it makes economic sense: for workers, employers, and the overall economy. Accordingly, MECEP strongly supports LD 1665 and urges its quick passage.
Dan Coyne, Fiscal Policy Analyst, testifying before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, is support of LD 1665, An Act to Prevent the Spread of H1N1.
1 This analysis is based on 2006 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and a policy that assumes a minimum seven days of paid sick leave for those working 20 or more hours in workplaces of at least 15 employees.