Orange County’s Earned Sick Time Initiative: The Facts

What does the Orange County Earned Sick Time initiative do?

  • The Earned Sick Time initiative would ensure that workers in larger businesses (those with 15 or more employees) can earn sick time off (up to 56 hours) so they can afford to take care of themselves and their families when they are sick or need medical care.   This policy will protect workers in small businesses by ensuring that they can’t be fired for taking up to 56 hours of sick time for themselves or a family member, but those smaller businesses with fewer than 15 workers will not have to pay workers when they are sick.

How does it benefit businesses?

  • Earned Sick Time saves businesses money by reducing employee turnover, the spread of disease in the workplace and lost productivity.
  • Earned Sick Time results in reduced turnover, which leads to reduced costs incurred from advertising, interviewing and training new hires.[1] This is particularly important in lower-wage industries where turnover is highest. Employers also reap the benefits of greater worker loyalty.
  • Earned Sick Time helps to decrease the productivity lost when employees work sick — known as “presenteeism” — which is estimated to cost our national economy $160 billion annually, surpassing the cost of absenteeism.[2]
  • In a region as financially dependent on tourism as Orange County, having a contagious service industry is harmful. The Earned Sick Time initiative prevents the spread of illness, and helps ensure visitors enjoy their stay in Orange County and want to come back.
  • It also helps to promote a happy and healthy workforce, and reduces on the job injuries directly caused by employees who work while sick.

How does it benefit Orange County’s working families?

  • Nearly four in ten private-sector workers — and 81% of the lowest-wage workers — do not have Earned Sick Time to tend to their own health needs. That is 40 million workers with no access to Earned Sick Time and another 4.2 million who haven’t been on the job long enough to be eligible for Earned Sick Time.[3]
  • Every family wants the best for their children, but without Earned Sick Time, parents can be forced to choose between their family’s financial stability and their children’s health.
  • Earned Sick Time and other practical policies will help Orange County workers hold onto their jobs, support their families and sustain local businesses. In these tough economic times, no one should have to lose income – or worse, lose their job – just because they get sick.
  • Nearly one quarter of adults in the US have lost a job or been threatened with job loss for taking time off when sick. Passing the Earned Sick Time initiative will help make jobs more secure, our economy more stable and allow workers to provide for their families.
  • Adults without Earned Sick Time are 1.5 times more likely than adults with Earned Sick Time to report going to work with a contagious illness like the flu or a viral infection — and risk infecting others. For example, more than three in four food service and hotel workers (78%) don’t get a single earned sick day — and workers in child care centers and nursing homes overwhelmingly lack Earned Sick Time.[4]
  • Women often lose pay or risk losing their jobs to care for a sick child, and low-wage women are the most likely to suffer financially. Half of working mothers miss work when their child gets sick. Of these mothers, half do not get paid when they take this time off. Among low income working mothers, two in three report losing pay.[5] One in eight women (13 percent) and one in five women with children (20 percent) reported that they or a family member had been fired or disciplined by an employer for taking time off to cope with an illness or to care for a sick child or family member.[6]
  • Earned Sick Time allows sick workers to recuperate at home, preventing the spread of illness, and helps ensure visitors enjoy their stay in Orange County and want to come back.

Has Earned Sick Time worked elsewhere?

  • In 2006, San Francisco implemented their earned sick time policy, demonstrating clear benefits to businesses and workers alike[7]. Since San Francisco’s law went into effect, total employment in San Francisco has increased at a rate comparatively higher than the five surrounding areas.
  • Similar proposals have passed in Seattle, Washington D.C., and even the state of Connecticut, and new places are considering implementation every year.

The bottom line: At a time when Orange County must find ways to create jobs and reduce unemployment, this common sense proposal will help keep good workers in their jobs, give families financial stability, increase the economic security of our city and protect our health and safety.

For more information on the campaign, please visit

Pd. Pol. Adv. Paid for by Citizens for a Greater Orange County

P.O. Box 533473, Orange County, FL 32853

[1] Siegwarth Meyer, C. et al. (2001, Spring). Work-Family Benefits: Which Ones Maximize Profits?, Journal of Managerial Issues, 13(1).[2] Stewart, W. et al. (2003, December). Lost Productive Health Time Costs from Health Conditions in the United States: Results from the American Productivity Audit. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 45. Retrieved 22 April 2011, from [3]U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2010, March). Employee Benefits in the United States: Selected paid leave benefits: Access, National Compensation Survey (Table 6). Retrieved 9 December 2010, from Includes tenure adjustment made in: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (2010, December). Fact Sheet: 44 Million U.S. Workers Lacked Paid Sick Days in 2010. Institute for Women’s Policy Research Publication. Retrieved 7 January 2011, from[4]  Hartmann, H. (2007, February 13). The Healthy Families Act: Impact on Workers, Business, The Economy and Public Health. Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2011, from 307.pdf. [5] Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “Women and Paid Sick Days: Crucial for Family Well-Being,” 2007.[6] Lake Research Partners telephone survey of 1,200 likely voters nationwide (2.8% margin of error), conducted June 20 – 27, 2007.[7] 4 Drago R., & Lovell, V. San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees. Institute for Women’s Policy Research, February 2011. See note 29.

Earned Sick Time Initiative: The Facts
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