Paid Sick Leave Story
The Workers’ Rights Clinic at the University of Arizona collected surveys from 90 low-wage immigrant women workers and conducted 29 interviews of workers, government officials, and community leaders between April 2012 and March 2013.
The resulting report, “Out of the Shadows: Shedding Light on the Working Conditions of Immigrant Women in Tucson,” contained numerous recommendations to address the concerns identified. One recommendation, responding to the high rates of injury and lack of safety net of the women in the study, was to offer paid sick time.
Laura, one of the workers profiled in the report, worked as a housekeeper in a small hotel in Tucson, earning less than minimum wage. About five years into the job, she fell and seriously injured her ankle. She took just one day off. Her employer threatened that she would lose her job if she took off more time. The ankle never fully healed; Laura walks with a severe limp and the ankle is visibly misshapen to this day. Her employer repeatedly said, with regard to the injury, “This is your problem; this is not my problem. I pay you to work.”
Like Laura, eighty percent of the survey respondents did not receive paid sick days. Thirteen workers reported they would not be able to receive permission to take time off to see the doctor. . In fact, some are too scared to even ask: “I would feel very bad to bother them [to ask for time off]…” explained one worker.
Under existing law, none of these workers is entitled to take a sick day, regardless of how many years they have been employed. This is particularly concerning in the occupations in which the women surveyed work, which have high rates of injury.