09 Feb

Sick leave can prevent servings of sickness

Here’s the first thing you want to think about when considering paid sick leave:
How sick do you want the cook making your cheese omelet to be?

Oregon rightly prides itself on its restaurant and food scene. But eighty-three percent of food and restaurant workers have no paid sick time off, which can cause them to add some extra ingredients.

Paid sick leave, which half of Oregon workers don’t have, isn’t just an employee benefit. It’s a public health issue, because workers who have to come to work when they’re sick don’t keep it to themselves. They spread it around, through offices and restaurants and schools.

That’s part of the reason why three other states, including California, have paid sick leave laws. The idea has spread to cities, including Portland, where it’s been the law since the beginning of last year. We don’t hear about abuse, and the burden doesn’t seem intolerable.

A few days a year of paid sick leave, often not used, recognizes the dignity of low-income workers, and their effort to keep themselves and their families afloat. It also works to avoid contagion spreading out to many other people, with effects both economic, and epidemiological.

Because nobody really wants a side of infection with their eggs.

NOTE: This commentary appeared von KGW-TV,2/7/15.

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