Implications of a paid sick leave ordinance for Tacoma

As of June 2013, five U.S. cities and one state have established laws to guarantee people the right to earn paid sick days from their employers: San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; New York, NY; Washington, DC; and Connecticut. With the Tacoma City Council poised to consider a paid sick days ordinance, a review of recent studies finds:

  1. Paid sick leave is provided unequally and inequitably in Tacoma.
  2. A widespread lack of paid sick leave poses public health risks.
  3. Paid safe leave helps protect victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
  4. Paid sick leave contributes to a strong local economy by helping families maintain buying power – and employers’ experience with paid sick days laws in other cities is generally positive.
  5. Tacoma voters, like other Americans, support a paid sick leave law by a wide margin.

Paid sick leave is provided unequally and inequitably in Tacoma

An estimated 37,500 of Tacoma’s 94,000 jobs do not provide any paid sick leave, including nearly 6,900 in health services, 5,800 in retail and 4,600 in accommodation and food services. Lower income workers, women, and people of color – and their children – are disproportionately impacted by the lack of paid leave. Nationally, nearly 80% of people who earn above the average hourly wage get paid sick leave, compared to just 20% among the bottom 10% of earners.

People without paid sick leave suffer negative health consequences and face financial losses, ranging from smaller paychecks to fewer career advancement opportunities and a more limited ability to build retirement savings.

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