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Know Your Rights
Source: CBS News
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

H1N1 Fears Prompts NYC Bill Mandating Sick Days

The swine flu has already broken out on college campuses across the country. Experts said it’s only a matter of time before it’s in elementary, middle and high schools. They advise parents to keep their sick children home, but what is a parent to do if they have to go to work?

"Many, many parents are worried today about keeping their jobs. They cannot also worry about having to stay home with a sick child and losing their jobs," said Councilwoman Gale Brewer.

More than a million New Yorkers, 39-percent of which are parents, don’t get paid sick days, according to a recent study. This is why a new bill requiring employers to give five paid sick days to employees is being proposed to the city government.

It’s a bill nurse Mary Pappas from St. Francis Prep in Queens supports. "I sent home 102 kids with fever on the first day and 80 the next," she said.

Pappas was the first one to spot the swine flu outbreak last spring and credits the ability of parents to pick up their children with helping to slow down the spread of the H1N1 virus. But small business owners say the issue is complicated, especially since they are having a difficult time staying afloat during this recession.

"I used to do that, not any more," said businessman John Mamur.

Edward Taylor owns a fish restaurant in the Village and said he supports the bill, but that it would be difficult to apply to his whole staff.
"A lot of them work three or four nights a week, so to give them sick leave, waiters and waitresses, that probably wouldn’t work," he said.

The bill is still in its early stages, but there is the possibility it could be passed this October.