As doctors, we're constantly reminding patients to stay home and recover if they get sick, rather than go to work and risk spreading illness to coworkers and the general public. But that's easier said than done for workers without paid sick days.
This year's flu is one of the most virulent we've seen. The epidemic is so bad that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already declared a state of emergency, and stocks of the flu vaccine are running low all across the state. Yet all flu season, we've treated patients who work with the public, but are too afraid of losing a day's wages -- or even their jobs -- to take a day off.
We're talking about waitresses and cooks who prepare and serve our food, and home health care workers who serve elderly and other folks with compromised immune systems. When these workers feel forced to work while sick, it's unhealthy for the workers -- but it's dangerous for everyone.
In New York City, hundreds of thousands of workers don't have paid sick days. A bill to allow workers to earn paid sick days has been stalled in the city council by Speaker Christine Quinn for more than 1000 days, and she still won't let a vote go through even though it has more than enough votes to win.
This flu epidemic makes it clearer than ever -- New York needs paid sick days, and we need them now. Please join us in asking Council Speaker Chrstine Quinn to stop standing in the way of paid sick days for all New Yorkers.
This year's flu outbreak underscores the urgent need for paid sick days for working New Yorkers.
Every health professional knows that if you're sick, you should stay home and rest, instead of going to work sick and risking infecting your co-workers and the public.
But for hundreds of thousands of workers in New York City without paid sick days, it's not always so easy to follow sound medical advice -- not when missing work could cost you pay, or even your job.
Workers without paid sick days work in restaurants and day care centers, in grocery stores and elder care facilities. When those workers feel compelled to come to work sick, it only serves to worsen a public health crisis like this one.
New Yorkers cannot afford to wait any longer. It's time to allow a vote on the paid sick days bill.