Paid Sick Days - : Content

Paid Sick Days

When you work hard in Maine, you should be able to care for yourself and your family when illness strikes, especially in the case of a public health crisis such as pandemic flu. Unfortunately, 214,400 Maine workers lack paid sick days – totaling 36% of the workforce1.  As a result, employees must choose – either come to work sick and risk spreading their illness or stay home and risk losing a day’s pay … or even their job.


Lack of Paid Sick Days Puts Families - and Businesses - at Risk


When workers clock in sick, they risk spreading illness to their co-workers and their customers. And, when parents aren’t able to take their children to the doctor, they put the health of other children and teachers at risk.

People without paid sick days either lose pay to visit a doctor or go to work and let their illness intensify, harming themselves and their employer. Some workers lose their jobs, while many workers who do earn paid sick days also face penalties – even termination – for using those days.

Paid Sick Days Benefit Our Families, Our Health, and Our Businesses


Job retention: That's the key to economic recovery. Paid sick days helps keep people employed when faced with inevitable short term illness. And, that's a benefit for economic recovery.

In addition, employers who offer a minimum number of paid sick days save money – in increased productivity and lower turnover. Employees who take time off to get well save employers money with shorter absences because they prevent their health from worsening. In fact, estimates from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research pin net savings for Maine employers at $37 million annually. That’s an average savings of $4.18 per worker per week for each employer!2  Andy Graham, a small-business owner in Portland, provides paid sick days to his 24 employees at Portland Color.

“As a businessperson in Maine, there are always two bottom lines –what makes the most money in the short term, and what is best in the long term. In my 30 years in business, I have always provided my employees with the basics. Providing sick days keeps my business efficient and working at peak productivity. I don’t have to pay expenses for recruiting or retraining because of unnecessary turnover. And, I don’t run the risk of spreading illness to my customers. My workers have higher morale, and that makes my business both a great place to work, and a more profitable one.”


It's Time To Pass Paid Sick Days


The good news is that the vast majority of voters support paid sick days. 87% of voters support legislation to provide a minimum number of paid sick days for all workers.3  Support that remains strong among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. The public recognizes paid sick days legislation as vital, particularly in these difficult economic times. Now, it’s time for policymakers to catch up.

Lawmakers should pass a bill to establish a minimum number of paid sick days for all workers in Maine. And, the U.S. Congress must follow by enacting the “Healthy Families Act.”  No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck; paid sick days are a critical need for Maine’s workforce.


  1. Maine Center for Economic Policy analysis using the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) Paid Sick Days Estimator. The Estimator uses IWPR analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' March 2006 National Compensation Survey.
  2. Miller, Kevin and Claudia Williams. 2009. Valuing Good Health in Maine: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days. Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
  3. Lake Research Partners. Paid Sick Days Survey. July 2007.

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