A job saved is as good as a job created these days. That’s what a brief released today reminds us as we think of ways to put our state and our workforce on a path to recovery.
Released as part of a series examining the State of Working North Carolina, the brief walks through the significant shifts our workforce has faced over the last thirty years, including the growth of women in the labor force as well as the booming numbers of workers who wield major caregiving duties for family members. And how our workplace policies have utterly failed to keep up with these changes that working families know all too well.
The result? Families teetering on the edge of keeping their jobs when common occurrences like a cold strikes them. That’s because nearly half of North Carolina’s private-sector lack a single paid sick days to care for themselves or a sick family member.
Similarly, working families have very few supports to aid them in dealing with another set of common life experiences—birth and long-term illness. The only law on the books, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, that is supposed to allow families to take leave time to care for a newborn child or a parent with Alzheimer’s is inaccessible to the majority of North Carolinians (and Americans) because the leave time is unpaid and it only applies to workers in larger businesses.
As we know, in today’s economy, losing a job can be catastrophic and caregiving responsibilities are increasing become a reason workers are seeing their paychecks shrink or even losing their economic livelihood.
There is no reason families should have to choose between caring for their families or a job. We’re in the 21st Century afterall. And it’s time policymakers start recognizing that and looking at common-sense measures like paid sick days to ensure that our workers can hold on to the jobs they’ve got. There’s no better time than now.