Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Story
When Armida was offered a position as the receptionist at a health and rehabilitation center, she felt that the offered wage of 8.05 an hour was not enough to support herself and her eight-year-old son as a single mother, so she asked for higher pay. Her boss agreed to pay her $8.25 per hour instead. Armida accepted the job, and hoped that by working as many hours as she could, she would earn enough to make up for the low hourly wage.
But the additional 20 cents per hour did not keep Armida from feeling that her work was undervalued. “I felt less than my co-workers because of how much I was getting paid.” Armida was the only employee tasked with staffing reception, so Armida’s boss expected her to be at work during all business hours. Armida missed events at her son’s school. “Whenever my son had an assembly or something, I would tell my boss, but in my head, I was already like, ‘I’m going to miss that.’” Her boss would refuse to give her the time off.
Armida also never asked for time off when she was sick. She recalls working while she was sick: “I was miserable, with no energy. People noticed I was not my usual self – not very professional. Sometimes I’d think about how I should be home resting, trying to get better. “
Whenever her son got sick, Armida would have to scramble to find childcare so she could make it to work. She would make last-minute calls to parents, friends, and relatives to see if one of them could watch him for the day. When her son had to go to the doctor, it was even more stressful to find the time to get him there.
For Armida, the hardest part of making $8.25 per hour was thinking, ‘I can’t miss work because I won’t get paid.’ Armida feels life with a higher wage and life with paid sick leave would be a lot less stressful. The minimum wage “doesn’t give room for people to grow. You’re kind-of stuck. You don’t get to travel, you don’t get to be sick, you don’t get to enjoy life, really. You’re always tired, always stressed, thinking, ‘if I don’t work, what will I do?’”
While working at her receptionist job, Armida missed spending time with her son. She someday hopes to have the time to travel with him and to go to baseball and football games together. “I’m very dependable. You would think that I would be paid more for the work that I was doing and the challenges I was dealing with.”
"You’re always tired, always stressed, thinking, 'if I don’t work, what will I do?'"