Paid Sick Leave: A Women’s Issue?


Written by Madeleine Gyory,

Over at The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel has written a provocative piece on the progress of the fight for paid sick leave across the United States. Connecticut has made history as the first state to guarantee paid sick leave for all working residents. But is this a “common sense protection for working people,” as vanden Heuvel asserts? So far there have been victories in only three US cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, and the latest–Seattle. Vanden Heuvel wonders whether in 2012 the spirit of the Occupy Movement will galvanize more activists to fight for what she calls “economic sanity.”

This month, New York City will decide whether to pass a bill requiring living wage for workers on large, city-funded development projects. Van Heuvel marks this decision as a reform that would “make a big difference in the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans.” Katherine Bowers adds to the conversation in an article for Working Mother where she argues that paid sick leave is a definitive women’s issue. Of low income workers she writes, “When they have a sick child, these workers don’t just risk a day’s pay, but, potentially, their jobs if they stay home. It’s a burden that falls most heavily on women, who are more likely to be primary caregivers and twice as likely to be in the low-wage bracket, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The movement for paid sick leave reform has seen the impressive collaboration of a diverse set of organizations and communities. As van Heuvel points out, “labor, women’s groups, doctors, nurses, antipoverty groups, retirees, and enlightened business owners” have all joined forces in the fight to defend workers’ rights.

This post was originally published by the Women’s Media Center.


Related Stories:

Only 50 Percent of US First-Time Mothers Receive Paid Leave

Mass. Paid Leave Fights For Workers to Have Paid Sick Days

Women Should Get Paid Less Because They Menstruate


Photo from Silver Tusk via flickr


Yvonne Fast
Yvonne F6 years ago

It's fantastic how far behind the US is on those issues! Poor Americans!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago


Nancy L.
Nancy L6 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

Women should be paid for sick leave this is very unusual any one can fall sick that dose not mean that you are not paid

Winn Adams
Winn A6 years ago

Everyone should have paid sick leave as part of their employment package when hired.

Kristina C.
Kristina C6 years ago

Bravo Katrina vanden Heuvel - I do believe that paid sick leave is a women's issue, because women mostly take care of their sick family members and children. The majority of single family households are also lead by women that in general make less wages than men with fewer benefits as it is. So changes in the pay of sick leave will benefit allot of women.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

It still falls short of "90% of women want them, however."

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

Actually I am wrong. From the Urban Institute Web site

"More than half of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians want to have a child."

It would seem more men than women want kids, perhaps.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

20 years ago I wondered when we would reap what we had sown. Now 43% of Gen X women and 32% of Gen X men have no kids.

Patricia Marino
Patricia Marino6 years ago

And Michelle Bachman thinks Obama is a socialist without universal paid sick leave? Not to mention paid child leave? Hello USA when are you going to start protecting your workers?