WASHINGTON, D.C. — With Ohio in the midst of a widespreak flu outbreak, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is backing a plan to ensure workers have access to to paid sick leave.
Brown is cosponsoring the Healthy Families Act which would allow workers to earn paid sick time while protecting business owners. The proposal would enable workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick time a year while exempting businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
For business owners like Heather Rocco-Geissler, chief executive officer and co-owner of Vandalia-based Challenger Aviation Products, it just makes sense.
“I’m very passionate about this topic. As a family-owned business in Dayton, Ohio, I consider every employee that I have to be family. Just like I would want my family members to be treated I want my employees to be treated the same way,” Rocco-Geissler said. “As the CEO, I feel that without my employees I would not be in this position. In my opinion, these are earned paid sick days that they deserve, that they’ve earned. I really believe that everyone should have the right to be sick and recover in an environment that doesn’t allow for contagious qualities.”
Brown said as many as four in 10 private-sector workers do not have a single paid sick day.
“For too many Americans, sick day means a day without pay. Business owners, like Heather, realize that healthy workers are often more productive workers,” Brown said. “Doing the right thing is also right for business. But not all employers recognize this, and many workers are left without unions to stand up for them.
“The Healthy Families Act would allow American workers to earn the sick leave that would once have been negotiated on their behalf by unions through collective bargaining. Paid sick days save employers money. They reduce turnover and help increase productivity. Paid sick days are vital to maintaining public health.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of Jan. 19 there have been 3,081 influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio. Last year in the same time period, there had been 97.
Brown said ensuring access to paid sick leave should be common sense.
“It should not take an influenza outbreak for us to see the significance of paid sick leave,” Brown said. “We know it’s important.”