August 22, 2013 at 6:57 PM
Sick-leave pay in Seattle and beyond
Leave especially important in food industry
Michael Saltsman’s critique of Seattle’s paid sick-leave law neglects to mention the public-health benefits of enabling people to stay home from work when they are sick. [“Guest column: Sick-leave pay not a cure-all,” Opinion, Aug. 20.]
The Centers for Disease Control cited the importance of giving food workers paid sick leave to prevent future outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, something that affects 1-in-6 Americans every year.
Everyone can agree that restaurant workers should not to handle food when they are sick. But without paid leave, some workers simply cannot afford to stay home, no matter how ill they are. In fact, a recent survey of food-service workers found that in the past year alone, 5 percent worked while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.
Paying a few cents more for a burger seems like a small price to pay to avoid getting sick. According to Saltsman’s own survey, 84 percent of Seattle businesses did not raise prices in response to the law anyway.
When you consider that workers with paid sick leave make fewer visits to the emergency room, visits often paid for by taxpayers, it becomes clear that paid sick leave benefits the public financially as well.
Kelly Richburg, Seattle
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