Widespread Flu Endangers Workers with No Paid Sick Days

“Parents without paid sick days send their children to school sick. I see it all the time. The kids may have the flu, but the parents have no alternatives.” – Thomas Calhoun, President of the Norfolk Federation of Teachers

RICHMOND, Feb. 14, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Health has received reports of 773 cases of pneumonia and influenza-associated deaths during the past 11 weeks, and the flu remains “widespread” across the state.

Prince Edward and King William County schools were forced to close for two days last week due to flu outbreaks. While school superintendents across Virginia are calling for sick children to stay home, many are sent to school sick because their parents have no paid sick days and can’t afford to take a day off. In fact, 1.2 million workers in Virginia have no paid sick days (or paid time off) and there is no law requiring employers to provide paid sick days.

Sen. Barbara Favola’s bill, SB 481, will require employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to five paid sick days to their workers. Companies with fewer employees would be required to provide up to two unpaid sick days which could be used for the workers themselves or to care for their sick children. The bill passed the Senate and will soon be heard in the House.

“Children get sick. Everyone gets sick. If you have no paid sick days and you depend on every day’s pay to make ends meet, you are likely to go to work sick or send your child to school sick, and those children and their parents are spreading germs,” said Kim Bobo, Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Recent studies reveal that parents who have paid sick days are five times more likely to stay home and care for their children than those who don’t have any paid sick days. And children recover 31 percent faster when they are cared for by a parent.

“Stopping the spread of flu viruses is best done by allowing sick people to recover at home,” said Amanda Silcox, coordinator for the Paid Sick Days campaign led by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Children get sick. Everyone gets sick. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy calls on legislators to curtail the spread of illness and protect workers and their children by passing SB 418.

Link to Paid Sick Days Fact Sheet

Watch video, “All Workers Need Paid Sick Days”

Media contact:
Roberta Oster
Communications Director
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

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The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, racial, social and environmental justice
in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action.
VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of more than 750 faith communities working for a more just society.