COLUMBUS — On the heels of President Barack Obama’s paid sick leave initiative, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is pushing one of his own.
Brown, D-OH, said that 45 percent of Ohio workers don’t have sick leave, something he wants to change.
“For too many Ohioans a sick day means a day without pay,” Brown said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.
Brown plans to introduce the Healthy Families Act, which would offer workers an opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick time, among other things.
“Ohioans shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and their health or the health of their child,” Brown said.
His announcement comes after Obama’s guarantee to offer paid sick leave for over 300,000 federal contractors, which he made earlier this week.
Brown talked of other worker benefits, but said that “our safety network for workers is not finished, in many cases it’s eroded.”
When employees don’t have sick days, it makes the “workforce less likely to be healthy” and workers less productive, he said.
Nick Pasquarello, a restaurant employee in Columbus, joined Brown on the call and told of his own experiences in the workforce without sick days.
“It takes a lot for me to even call in … I have to be feeling really bad,” Pasquarello said. “In the past year there’s only been one or two times I’ve really felt that under the weather. Both times I was told to basically suck it up, I need to come in and I need to work.”
Since Pasquarello is in the food industry, he said when he comes in when he’s sick he not only risks making his coworkers sick, but also customers.
“It’s self-defeating in a sense,” he said of the restaurant management making him come in when he’s sick. “It’s disheartening to know I had to go in not feeling well with all those risks at play.”
Brown says mandated sick days are “good for workers” and “good for business.”
Pasquarello thinks sick days should be legally mandated to “force companies to actually take our health into consideration and not have us choose between a day’s work and being healthy.”
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.