For Immediate Release
June 11, 2015
Contact: Stacey Range Messina
Report details how lawmakers can improve jobs, House bill not among them
LANSING – No one wants their meal served with a side of flu or sick children sent to school or child care, but it happens every day across Michigan with low-wage workers losing critical income if they miss work.
Lack of earned sick leave as well as paid family and medical leave, predictable work schedules, and adequate child care assistance in Michigan puts low-income families in a constant struggle to achieve financial self-sufficiency, according to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy. That harms everyone with dangers to public health, and greater reliance on public assistance and remedial education to help kids in low-quality child care.
House Bill 4052, expected to receive final passage in the state Senate today, goes against recommendations in the report, “Valuing Families, Valuing Work.” The bill prohibits local governments from passing ordinances to improve workplaces on issues related to sick leave, predictable schedules and minimum wage.
“The best way to escape poverty, support a family and move toward economic security is through work, yet not all jobs have the reliability and flexibility that workers need in order to stay employed and contribute to the economy,” League Vice President Karen Holcomb-Merrill said. “Most middle- and upper-income workers take for granted that they know when they will work and can plan around it, or take time off when they aren’t feeling well or to care for a sick child. But those are luxuries for too many low-paid workers who have to choose between going to work sick and paying their rent.”
The report outlines four ways Michigan legislators can improve the workplace to help low-paid employees meet the needs of their families and help society in the long-run:
- Require all employers to provide earned sick leave.
- Urge Congress to establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program.
- Require employers to create predictable schedules.
- Update and strengthen the state child care subsidy to reflect reality.
Other legislation pending at both the state and federal levels would require employers to provide earned sick leave, a notion that receives strong public support. A recent poll by Denno Research found 86 percent of Michigan voters agree that every worker should be able to earn sick days in order to take time off without losing pay. Another Congressional bill would provide workers with 66 percent of their income for up to 12 weeks of leave due to serious illness or pregnancy. The program would be funded through small employer and employee contributions.
Low-income workers also are more likely to have irregular work schedules making child care difficult to find as well as wreaking havoc on family budgets when shifts are canceled or shortened. Child care also is a major expense for families, accounting for up to 30 to 50 percent of monthly expenses, and Michigan’s child care subsidy must be updated to better support children at the highest risk for poverty-related issues.
“These are common sense fixes that everyone should support to help all families thrive,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “This is about making sure jobs are in fact helping workers support their families rather than creating chaos and endangering children’s well-being.”
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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.