By
Jansing & Co.
updated 3/22/2013 12:19:10 PM ET 2013-03-22T16:19:10

Democrats have introduced legislation that would set a national standard requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to employees. Sarah Jane Glynn from the Center for American Progress defends the move and explains why paid sick leave benefits employees and employers.

A fierce battle being waged in New York City could be a foreshadowing of more to come across the nation. New York’s City Council debated Friday whether employers should be required to offer employees paid sick leave.

“If a worker gets sick, they have to take time off,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, a supporter of paid sick leave with Center for American Progress, on Jansing & Co. Friday. “[If] they have no job protection, they get fired. It costs a lot more to replace someone than it does to offer them a day or two off with paid leave.”

Glynn recently wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News advocating for mandatory paid sick leave for workers. She pointed out only one-third of workers in service jobs have paid sick days, and nearly 80% of those working in the leisure and hospitality industry lack this benefit.

The issue could also be taken up beyond New York City and addressed on the national level. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced legislation Wednesday that would set a national minimum sick day standard.

Critics of paid sick leave including the Heritage Foundation that says requiring the benefit would force some employers to lower wages to compensate for it. There is also the argument that abuse of paid sick leave hurts productivity.

“That’s simply not the case,” Glynn told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. “Most of the legislation that we’re talking about only offers five to seven days per year. So it’s not a considerable amount of time.”

Video: Battle rages over paid sick leave

  1. Closed captioning of: Battle rages over paid sick leave

    >>> a fierce political battle is being waged right now that could be a foreshadowing of more to come. new york city 's counsel is now holding a hearing on the issue of paid sick leave . a group of supporters held a rally outside city hall in just the last hour. part of the escalating battle as workers across the country without paid sick leave say they have a difficult choice. either they have to show up to work sick and potentially make others sick or stay home and not get paid. at the same time democratic senator tom harkin reintroduced legislation that would set a national minimum sick day standard. joining me now is sarah jane glen.

    >> thanks for having me on.

    >> we invited you because you co-wrote this op ed . and you pointed out that just in new york city more than a million workers don't have paid sick leave . now a lot of employers among other things we'll tell you it's a perk they just can't afford. make your argument.

    >> i would argue that it's not a case that businesses can't afford to offer paid sick leave . in fact, businesses can't afford not to offer paid sick leave . one of the industries where workers are least likely to have access is food service . it's bad for business to have servers and cooks and busboys coming into work sick. nobody want does have someone sneezing in their salad. they ineffect their co-workers. they infect patrons. this is really bad for business and it costs businesses a lot of money. if a worker gets sick they have to take time off. they have no job protection. they get fired. it costs a lot more to replace someone than it does to offer them a day or two off with paid leave.

    >> the hair tanl foundation says requiring paid sick leave harms both customers and co-workers because, one, employers would actually lower wages to compensate for newly mandated benefits like paid sick leave . and if no replacement can be found on short notice, the job is left undone. now there is also an argument that abuse of sick leave -- and i've heard this a lot as i've listened to their argument -- that it gets abused too much and it hurts everybody. what do you say.

    >> there's a lot of data to show that that's simply not the case. most of the legislation that we're talking about only offers five to sieven days a year. so it's not a considerable amount of time. and we know, looking at the city that is do have paid sick leave laws in place, that workers only take two to three days per year when they have access to these benefits. so people like to tell this story that oh people are going to be calling in sick. they're going to be taking off weeks from work. that's not the case. you're talking about a few days per year. most of the time that's work that can wait until the next day or co-workers are able to cover for themselves. and the truth is if someone is really sick, they're not going to come into work whether they're getting paid or not. and so businesses already have strategies in place to deal with this. i think it's just a lot of people who are concerned about new regulations and so, they're telling the story that just simply isn't accurate.

    >> i mentioned legislation that is be being reintroduced by senator harkin, among other things there are healthy families act calls for them to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. they could earn up to 56 hours of sick leave per year and it would only apply to businesses if they have 15 or more employees. but that would cover about 90% of the work force . how tough is this going to be to get passed.

    >> we have a lot of support for this on the ground. the majority of voters, regardless of their political affiliation believe in this. and we've had some wins. the city of philadelphia also passed legislation that we're waiting to see if the mayor will veto it or not. so there's very, very strong support from workers and work being families, because they understand how important this issue is. and our hope is that congress will recognize that this is something that's vitally important for american workers and will also recognize that there's no reason to suspect it would have any kind of harmful effect on the economy. the u.s. is the only economy in the world that doesn't guarantee workers this right. there's a lot of evidence that it's good for businesses, good for workers and good for kpis.

    >> i think some people would say you had me at sneezing in the salad. but thank you so much.

    >> it is the largest single

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