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Sick Workers Would Get Time Off Under Spokane Proposal

Spokane Alliance
Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

For many workers, getting sick does not mean time off work. In fact, about 40,000 workers in Spokane do not have paid sick leave, according to the Spokane Alliance. That group, and city council members, announced today an ordinance to require paid sick leave for all Spokane workers.

The Spokane Alliance held a news conference in the Saranac Commons Marketplace to announce a support for paid sick, safe, and family leave. The policy would require some time off for personal illness or injury, care for ill family members, and for legal or safety needs of domestic violence survivors.

Council member Jon Snyder said he and Amber Waldref are filing the ordinance this week.

Snyder: “All the legislatures in the northwest, including Idaho, have seen paid sick and safe leave bills introduced. In the state of Washington, just this week, the senate actually held a hearing on paid sick leave.”

He says the measure would take affect this summer. The Centers for Disease Control estimate 20 percent of all food illnesses come from a sick worker. And public school counselor Madeline Sells said when parents don’t have sick leave, it can affect students. One of her students has missed 24 days of school to take care of sick siblings, because their mom couldn’t miss work.

Sells: “Her mother works many hours to support their family, and is unable to take time off because she would lose the needed pay. As you can imagine, this student is falling behind socially and academically.”

The Spokane Education Association and about 60 other local businesses are supporting the city’s proposal. Other supporters include Santé Restaurant, Main Market Co-Op, and Catholic Charities Spokane.

Spokane Alliance says 18 cities already require paid sick leave, including Seattle and Tacoma.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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