TAYLOR — State Representative Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) held a community conversation yesterday on the topic of earned paid sick leave with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Geiss and Dingell are working at the state and federal level to pass paid sick day legislation. House Bill 4167 would allow workers in Michigan to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, whether an employee works full time or part time. Joining the lawmakers were Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice, who moderated the discussion, and Lisa Norris, Ph.D., RN, of Western Wayne Family Health Center.

“Workers and their families deserve the security of knowing that when someone is sick — whether it’s the employee or a family member — they won’t lose a day’s pay or even their job to stay home,” Geiss said. “It’s a matter of fairness, and I believe it will also benefit businesses, whose employees are not worried about a sick child or parent.”

“No one should face the impossible choice between caring for themselves or a sick family member and losing a paycheck – or their job,” said Dingell. “But that’s the reality for 43 million Americans who do not have a single paid sick day. It’s time to bring our workplace policies into the 21st century because businesses and the economy will do better when working families are successful and can get ahead.”

Dingell has co-sponsored federal legislation to establish paid sick leave policy. H.R. 932, the Healthy Families Act, would allow workers in businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to seven days of job-protected paid sick leave each year to care for themselves or a family member. People working in a business with fewer than 15 employees would be able to earn up to seven job-protected days of unpaid sick leave annually.

Allowing workers to earn paid sick leave also addresses the issue of public health. Many employees go to work sick rather than forgo a day’s pay, making it more likely that they will spread their illness to co-workers or customers. Paid sick leave will reduce the transmission and allow employees to rest, coming back to work healthy and more productive.

“Employers and the general public benefit when workers are healthy, but these laws’ greatest asset is peace of mind,” Atkinson said. “Workers, especially women, who most often bear the majority of care-giving responsibility, deserve the security of knowing they can help themselves or a loved one without fear of repercussions.”