“Our nation’s service workers are a vital part of our economy, and they provide critical support that touches all of our lives. Yet service workers are unlikely to have the kind of flexible workplace arrangements that allow them to meet the dual demands of work and family. That is why it is critically important that the Obama administration’s National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility event taking place in Denver today is focused on the workplace challenges faced by restaurant, hospitality and tourism workers.
More than 60 percent of hospitality and tourism workers and about three-quarters of food service workers lack even a single paid sick day they can use to recover from common illness or to care for a sick child. They also are among the lowest paid workers in the country. When losing even a few hours’ pay threatens a worker’s ability to put food on the table or make a rent payment, taking unpaid sick time can put significant strain on them and their families. If risking job loss or losing pay is unmanageable, and workers have no paid sick days or paid family and medical leave, they have no choice but to go to work sick or send a sick child to school or daycare, increasing the likelihood that contagious diseases will spread.
The National Partnership for Women & Families commends the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau’s ongoing commitment to publicly examining these issues and for shedding light on the dilemmas facing working families. Today’s discussion gives an important group of workers a voice and creates a space for workers, business owners and policymakers to advance workplace policy standards that meet everyone’s needs.
We hope that the energetic national discussion and research about paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and flexible workplaces these events have inspired will continue after the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility series ends. We hope that initiatives across the country — including a 2011 ballot campaign for paid sick days in Denver — will address our nation’s need to make our policies more family friendly. We look forward to real progress that reflects the success of these events and truly addresses the many pressures placed on today’s working families.”