Guest Post, Labor — September 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Part 1: Earned Paid Sick Time, Faces of the Fight – Nicole Banks


This is the first of a four part series about workers who are directly impacted by the crucial fight to make earned paid sick time required by law. (Part 2 is HERE, Part 3 is HERE, and Part 4 is HERE.) Last year, the group MI Time to Care launched a petition drive to put earned sick time on the ballot. They were ultimately not successful. However, they have not given up the fight and are working to make sure it’s on the 2018 ballot. You can read more about their effort and get updates HERE.

Here’s what I wrote last year about the Earned Sick Time Act:

The Earned Sick Time Act is a bill to provide workers with the right to earn sick time for personal or family health needs, as well as purposes related to domestic violence and sexual assault and school meetings needed as the result of a child’s disability, health, or issues due to domestic violence and sexual assault; to specify the conditions for accruing and using earned sick time; to prohibit retaliation against an employee for requesting, exercising, or enforcing rights granted in this act; to prescribe powers and duties of certain state departments, agencies, and officers; to provide for promulgation of rules; and to provide remedies and sanctions.

The proposal would allow people to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Workers could earn up to nine days of paid sick time, depending on the size of the business.

Today’s guest post is by Nicole Banks and I thank her for her essay.


My husband Timothy and I are the proud parents of four beautiful children. Being the mother in a family of six, I like to joke that it is my husband and I against the fantastic four!

Being a mother of four children, I often have days, and sometimes weeks of having sick children and eventually my husband and I fall ill. There have been times when we have gone a couple of months with colds and viruses passing from person to person especially when the kids were younger. We were fortunate my husband had access to ‘some’ time off seemingly without placing his job in jeopardy.

My husband is an hourly auto worker. His job provides paid vacation and personal time. Personal time can be used at the employees’ discretion but this like vacation time must be pre-planned. Using it for other reasons is frowned upon and can result in negative action. This makes it difficult to plan ahead when an illness occurs.

One story that sticks out is the time my son needed his tonsils removed. I was assured by the doctor it was to be an out-patient procedure and he would be home that evening. Things did not go as planned, Ethan had trouble waking up from anesthesia. He stopped breathing a couple of times and needed to be kept overnight.

Eventually, this turned into a weeklong stay due to pneumonia. My son wanted his Dad to be with him, but we could not afford for him to miss work without pay. So we spent a week there with daily visits from Dad and scary nights without him. Every boy wants their Dad during these scary times.

People often feel that as an auto worker family we don’t have these issues. But auto workers do. Being able to have access to earn PAID sick time during this time would have meant Ethan having his Dad during the scariest time of his nine years of life – making all the difference in the world.

My husband is diabetic. He has to take off work for issues surrounding his condition. This time is never planned. His job is protected through FMLA but during these times he is not working we have lost his income. It is very hard to get well while at the same time dealing with the stress of not being able to make ends meet. Because of this, my husband has gone to work when he was sick.

No one is asking for a handout, with Earned Paid Sick Time. Instead, we are simply stating that working people should be able to earn time off so that they don’t have to work sick or when a loved one needs them. My story is just one of many like it that prove the time is now for Earned Paid Sick Time laws in Michigan.