Cold and flu season is just around the corner. So what do grocery and retail workers have to do with public health? In a nutshell, they handle your food and if they don’t have adequate sick days from their employers, you may be more likely to get sick.
That is why, paid sick leave for grocery and retail workers is so important.
In addition to the common colds and flus that are passed along when an ill cashier touches every item that goes into a customer’s grocery bag, serious illnesses are spread as a result of people working while sick.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that sick food workers cause over half of norovirus outbreaks, and contributed to another 29% of outbreaks.
- During the H1N1 Pandemic in 2009, sick workers may have caused as many as 7 million co-workers to get sick.
- In 2011, 16% of documented foodborne illnesses in Washington were caused by ill food workers.
A lack of paid sick leave can also harm child health and school performance.
No caregiver wants to be in the position of choosing between staying home to care for a sick child and going to work so they can pay the bills. However, without adequate paid sick leave, many families must decide between caring for a sick child at home and losing needed pay or risking their jobs.
- One in five workers in a recent survey we conducted of grocery and supercenter workers live with at least one child and do not have any other adults in their households.
- In Washington, the majority of preschoolers and school-age children live in homes where all parents are employed.
Adequate paid sick days mean fewer children going to school sick. When parents can stay at home with their kids, recovery times are shorter and germs stay home too—ensuring healthier schools, families and communities. For more information read our policy brief on Paid Sick Days on our website. Also see our article on the results of our examination of paid sick leave for grocery and retail workers.
So be sure to cover your cough with your elbow, AND ask your local supermarket if they offer paid sick days to their employees!