Study: Four in Ten San Antonio Workers Lack Paid Sick Leave

As San Antonio debates whether to pass an ordinance requiring all private employers to probide paid sick leave to their workers, a new study by the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities is adding support to those who think paid sick leave is essential, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The report shows nearly four out of ten San Antonio workers lack paid sick leave, according to the Center's Chandra Villanueva.

"We are often seen as a very pro business state, but if we are not protecting the employees and families of people who work for those businesses, than we are going to start seeing downturns in our economy," she told News Radio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.

Labor and activist groups last month presented petitions carrying the signatures of nearly 110,000 people, demanding that City Council either approve an ordinance mandating sick leave, or place the issue on the November charter change ballot.

Many people don't realize that there is no local, state, or federal law that requires companies to provide paid sick leave, like firms are required by law, for example, to pay a minimum wage.   In most cases, the issue of paid sick leave is left to the employer.

Villanueva says in a generally low-wage city like San Antonio, that means people have to go to work while they are sick or they don't get paid.

"We had a really bad flu season this year, and I think one of the reasons for that was people can't take time off to recover when they are sick, or they can't take time off to be with a child when the child is sick."

City Council has reacted cautiously to the proposal, with some members indicating they would support the measure if it were limited to larger businesses.  Many are concerned the law would discourage new start-up businesses, and add cost burdens to other who are just hanging on.

Advocates for mandatory paid sick leave point out that the largest number of people who go to work sick because they can't afford to take unpaid time off are in the restaurant and food service industries.

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