During Wednesday’s State of the State address, Gov. Pat Quinn called for paid sick days for all Illinois workers so they can avoid “that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day’s pay or even their job.”
While Quinn’s proposal called for only two earned sick days a year, advocates were encouraged. “We think this is a good start,” said Melissa Josephs, director of equal opportunity policy at Women Employed, a Chicago nonprofit that leads a coalition of organizations pushing for the sick-day requirement. “We definitely want to work with the legislature on the policy solution.”
So far, Connecticut is the only state in the country with a paid sick-leave law, which allows workers to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. But Josephs remained optimistic about prospects for the governor’s proposal, pointing to similar measures in six cities – Jersey City, N.J.; New York; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. – being implemented this year. (The city council of Newark, N.J. passed mandatory sick-leave legislation earlier this week, which the mayor has promised to sign.)
Polls show a large swath of voters support the paid sick days. In 2010, 86 percent of people surveyed nationwide favored a plan that requires a minimum of seven paid sick days per year, according to a study conducted for the Washington, D.C.-based Public Welfare Foundation.