Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Marilyn Watkins: Support sick and safe leave

Testimony before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on HB 1313, establishing minimum standards for accrued paid sick and safe leave

Good afternoon. I’m Marilyn Watkins of EOI and the WA Work and Family Coalition, testifying for HB 1313.

Paid sick leave is not a new benefit. The majority of employees in the US receive it. We have years of research on the impacts with clear and consistent findings:

  1. Direct costs of providing paid sick leave are very small, less than 1% of payroll according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and business owners themselves who have implemented in Seattle.[i]
  2. providing paid sick leave benefits businesses through higher morale and productivity, less absenteeism, less spread of disease in the work place, fewer workplace accidents, and lower rates of turnover, offsetting employers’ direct costs.[ii]
  3. without laws requiring that all workers receive paid sick leave, 4 in 10 workers in private industry will not get any.

8 cities and 1 state now have sick leave laws. Every study to date that has used scientifically selected, verifiable data shows that these laws have not had widespread negative impacts. They have had little to no impact on business costs, hiring, or location decisions.

Certainly in Washington, Seattle continues to lead state in economic vitality, with new restaurants and businesses choosing to locate there, knowing they must comply with the sick and safe leave law upon which HB 1313 is based.

As we sit here, children are waiting sick and miserable at school with no parent able to leave work to pick them up in every school district across the state. Our kids deserve better.

Let’s not wait another year to pass paid sick and safe leave.

Thank you.



[i] Robert W. Van Giezen, “Paid leave in private industry over the past 20 years,” Beyond the Numbers: Pay & Benefits, vol. 2, no. 18 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2013),

[ii] Examples include: Christine Siegwarth Meyer, et al, “Work-Family Benefits: Which Ones Maximize Profits?” Journal of Managerial Issues, vol. XIII, No. 1, Spring 2001: 28-44; Jane Waldfogel, “The Impact of the Family Medical Leave Act,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 18, Spring 1999; Thomas E. Casey and Karen Warlin, “Retention and Customer Satisfaction,” Compensation & Benefits Review, May/June 2001, p. 27-30.

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