What does it mean when more than 45 percent of Louisiana's workers cannot earn a single paid sick day?

What Does It Mean When More Than 45 Percent of Louisiana’s Workers Cannot Earn a Single Paid Sick Day?

New Fact Sheet Examines Impact on Workers, Families and the Economy in the State

A new fact sheet sheet on Louisiana’s workforce recently released by the National Partnership for Women & Families explores the impact of more than 676,000 workers in the state not being able to earn a single paid sick day. It focuses on the individuals and industries most affected by the lack of paid sick days, including children, restaurant workers and low-wage workers and their families. The fact sheet makes a powerful case for paid sick days standards at the state and national levels.

“Our nation’s failure to establish a paid sick days standard is harming people in Louisiana and across the country,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “It is absolutely unacceptable that so many hardworking people and their families risk grave financial hardship if they get the flu, strep throat or another common illness because they cannot earn basic paid sick days, even after years at their jobs. Lawmakers at all levels need to look closely at what is at stake and take action.”

Twenty-four jurisdictions across the country already have, or will soon have, laws in place that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick time. Louisiana is not one of them. To create the new fact sheet, the National Partnership compiled the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau for all of the states that do not yet have a state or municipal paid sick days law. Fact sheets for all of these states, including Louisiana, can be found in map form “here:http://www.nationalpartnership.org/issues/work-family/paid-sick-days-map.html.

According to the new fact sheet:

More than 160,000 people in Louisiana work in restaurants an industry in which, nationally, 90 percent of workers cannot earn paid sick days;
The largest industry in Louisiana is health care and social assistance. Nationally, more than one-quarter of workers in that industry cannot earn paid sick time;
Overall, 34.3 percent of Louisiana jobs are considered low wage, and few low-wage jobs allow workers to earn paid sick days; and
Nearly 730,000 children in Louisiana live in families in which all parents work, but parents with paid sick days often cannot use them to care for children.

“More than 45 percent of private sector workers in Louisiana lack access to paid sick days, including the majority of workers in the food preparation and serving industry,” said Dr. Katherine Theall of Tulane University. “The benefits of paid sick days to workers, families, employers and public health as well as to our state visitors are substantial. That is why it is so disappointing that opponents blocked passage of a statewide standard this year.” Tulane University’s Mary Amelia Women’s Center advocated for a paid sick days standard for Louisiana in the 2015 legislative session.

Nationally, more than 43 million private sector workers nearly 40 percent of the country’s workforce cannot earn paid sick days. That number has remained largely unchanged in recent years, despite a growing body of evidence that shows paid sick days benefit families, businesses and economies; and 85 percent of voters saying they want employers to provide paid sick time. The National Partnership fact sheet concludes that the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national paid sick days standard of seven paid sick days per year, should be a high priority for Congress.

“State and national level data like these make it painfully clear that employers and lawmakers are not acting quickly enough to establish the paid sick days standards workers and families across the country urgently want and need,” Ness continued. “Access to paid sick days should not depend on where someone lives or what job they hold. The Healthy Families Act is a common sense proposal that has been tested in states and cities across the country. It is long past time for Congress to make its passage a priority.”

The National Partnership convenes a broad and diverse coalition that supports the Healthy Families Act. More information can be found at PaidSickDays.org.

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org. or email Sadie Kliner