At least 43 million workers in the United States do not have access to any sick days in the workplace; many more cannot utilize paid sick time to care for their child or a family member. Everyone gets sick sometimes, or experiences the sickness of someone in their family, but not everyone can afford to take the time off that they may need. Only five states, 29 cities, and one county across the nation have paid sick time laws, and although this is an improvement from a few years ago when the idea of paid leave was rarely discussed, it is not nearly enough. No one should have to make the choice between caring for their family and having a job to help maintain that family.
For Latinos, the picture is even bleaker. Among Latino workers, 49% do not have access to paid sick days. This number is alarming considering the importance of family in the Latino culture. Family will always be the number one priority for Latinos, and having to choose between taking care of our sick family members or losing a day’s wage is a choice that no one should be faced with. For many, losing a day’s pay can mean not being able to feed their families, or not having enough to pay their rent. Many Hispanics are also the primary caregivers of their seniors. Expanding paid leave would allow these caregivers to manage their at home responsibilities while still maintaining a job that can help them sustain their families.
Many employers argue that there is no need for specific paid leave laws because employees can take time from their paid vacation, however, less than half of Latino workers have access to paid vacation. For many in the Latino population, balancing work and family responsibilities has become a burden that is nearly impossible to overcome.
Together we can be the change!
The approval of the Family Act would mean a nationwide solution to the current situation of many who are faced with this daily burden. If as citizens we unite and advocate for this bill, we can bring about the change that we wish to see. We need to speak up for the needs of our community and let policy makers know that diverse communities want and need this important piece of legislation. Join the many leaders who are already advocating to ensure paid sick leave for all.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.