News & Events

Gap in paid sick time (MS)

YOU REPORTED that visits to Massachusetts emergency rooms grew 7 percent between 2005 and 2007, and that many of these visits could have been treated in a doctor’s office. Many working families – particularly lower-income people and non-English speakers, as Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of health and human services, noted in a November Globe story – lack the paid time off to see treating doctors and primary care providers.

Legislation filed by state Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and state Representative Kay Khan (D-Newton) would allow all workers in Massachusetts to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to be used for illness, doctor visits, or care for a child, spouse, or parent.

More than 40 percent of Massachusetts workers in the private sector lack a single paid sick day. While required to have health insurance, without paid sick days, workers do not have the time to use their health insurance to go to the doctor for prevention, early detection, and treatment of illnesses and injuries.

Given the urgent need for healthcare cost containment, the Paid Sick Days Act is a natural fit.

Ellen N. Wallace