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Joint | April 22, 2015 | Press Room | Press Conference: Representative Fisher

Full MP3 Audio File

Welcome. Thank you all for your interest in these particular issues and what the idea behind this press conference today is to make sure everyone knows about a couple of bills that have been introduced has to do with providing employees with paid sick days and expanding family medical leave. Everyone gets sick or sees a loved ones fall ill but North Carolina's outdated employment laws don't allow workers to earn paid sick days or receive legal protections when taking extended family and medical leave to care for certain sick family members. That's why we're here today and why we've introduced two different legislative packages aimed at correcting these glaring anti-family policies. The Healthy Families in Work Places Paid Sick Days Act, House Bill 270 and it has a senate compliment 339, would allow workers to earn a hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. for up to four days for leave for employees at small businesses and up to seven days for employees of medium and larger businesses. The care giver relief act, House Bill 269, with it's partner bill in the senate 337, that act expands eligibility for federal, family and medical leave act protected unpaid family medical leave to include care of siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step parents and parents in-law. Here to speak on this bills are Broad, diverse, alliance of workers, business owners, advocates and members of the general assembly from both the House and the Senate. My legislative colleagues will speak first about the paid sick days act. I'll have a little bit to say about that, and then separately about the care giver relief act. Allan Friar of the North Carolina Justice Center will talk about the broad coalitions supporting these bills, Rebecca Luallen owner of Square Rabbit, a small business will be speaking as well Sarah Gamble, a grandmother and care giver, we have Vatisha Selvy who is also a care giver, professional care giver, and later in the conference we'll hear from Senator Angela Bryant. She had a meeting over on the Senator side and will be here a little bit later. But with me I have some of the sponsors or the legislation. I have Representative Jean from field who was one of the primary sponsors, I have Ralph Johnson, Representative Johnson. A lot of these are also co-sponsors, I have representative Canningham who is also a primary sponsor, Skregmeglier[sp?] is here and we will just begin by talking just a little bit about the paid sick days bill. So what's the paid sick day bill bill will do. It will allow workers to earn, as I said earlier, an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked for up to four days relief for employees of small businesses, and up to seven days for employees of medium and larger businesses. The paid sick days health workers to take care of themselves, their children, and their families. And what I would like to do now is just call on one of the sponsors, or the primary sponsors to talk a little bit more about that bill. Thank you representative Gin from Butterfield, I represent District 24 which includes portions of Wilson and Pitt counties. Pay sick leave is important to everyone, not only to the employee, but also to the employer as well as family members of the employee. a [xx] items is an important, is important because number one, if an employee needs to be off for a sickness, or emotional difficulty, or a family member that needs to be off for medical reasons, or just for routine medical care, it is important that they get it. Cause if not, the employee is not to be able to be effective in their work. If family members need to be off to take care of medical issues, immediate family members especially, and you're not able to provide that service as a family member then you have to incur expenses to make sure that that's done, there's no one there to do it. An employee saves money,

by having a healthy employee, they are better workers, their retention is great on the job, every time you replace a worker on the job, it costs employees more from my research than to hire a new person and start all over, so it's cost effective for businesses well if you've got questions I'll respond And next I would like to welcome Allan Freed[sp?] to the podium to talk about just the over view of these bills and to have that Justise [xx] is involved. Thank you Representative Fisher. Providing paid sick days and expanding family medical leaves is good for workers, it's good for businesses, and it's good for the overall economy. And that's why they are such a brilliant, growing, broad base of support for these policies in North Carolina. At the heart of this sort of growing movement is the North Carolina family's care campaign. It's a movement of organizations, and individuals, and business owners and advocacy organizations that supports the creation of quality jobs that will actually allow workers to make ends meet and provides for the family particularly in times of need. Many of the leaders are in the campaign are here with us today, thereare leaders of churches, organizations representing families, businesses, workers, applicants and healthcare labour and more. This one  looks like North Carolina because these policies are broadly popular across North Carolina. In fact we did pooling on this question and last summer in August have a policy point, asked a question to North Carolina citizens, How do you feel about paid family medical leave and paid sick days?  Overwhelm the response was incredibly positive. 62% of North Carolinians in the survey supported paid leave, only 20% were oppose. That the surprising bi partisan agreement on paid leave self described conservatives supported paid leave under this circumstances, but beyond holding numbers it's important to note that there's strong business or there is business support for these policies. I don't hear from one today, where you already actually offers paid leave, this is because it levels the playing field for other businesses that do offer paid leave. It also reduces cost we've heard of that already. Paid leave reduce turnover which is enormously expensive for businesses to replace workers and lastly sick workers infect their colleagues they infect their customers that's not good for business in fact sick worker cost business almost $255 per year per person that's far more than the cost of providing 4 or 6 paid sick days to workers so pay sick days are good for workers there good for businesses and they are good for the overall economy thank you bad now I'd like to call on Coran[sp?] I'm sorry Rebecca Luwarlan[sp?] owner of square rabbit too talk about how she has experience the idea of basic days within her business. Thank you hello everyone so happy to have this opportunity my husband and I own a small take-out restaurant bakery catering company called Square Rabbit and we've been in business 24 years. Over the years we intended to carry between 9-15 full time employees and several part time employees. We offer paid sick days for full timers as well as one week's paid vacation after one year of employment I have personally worked in food service for others and for myself my entire adult life so I see this from both sides. Choosing to operate a small business is not an easy path to take, small business people are tough and we make a lot of tough decisions. By deciding to offer paid sick leave was not a tough decision, it never occurred to us not to do it. I would like to read the title of this bill an act providing for healthy families and healthy workplaces by ensuring that all workers have earned paid sick days to address their own health needs and the health needs of their families. So let me start with healthy work place. That's true in my business, having to pay a sick day, also means having to someone to cover a shift because the work that we do doesn't pile up on somebody's desk until they get well. So in essence I'm paying twice, but if a sick worker reports to work, they risk passing on their illness to the rest of the staff. If I have 15 people scheduled to work, and four of them are sick at the same time. I have a problem, I have a problem with morale, I have a problem with efficiency, I have a problem with product consistency and I have a problem with quality of customer service and all of those problems are nothing compared to the risk of a sick worker spreading a food born illness. So I see paid sick days as a food safety precaution in my business. Now, we start by

healthy families, we have to able to take care of their family responsibilities, but the sake of arguments let's say a mum earns $10 an hour keeping in mind of course we don't make that much but let's say she's found a living situation that she can afford on that amount of money. It will mean no movie nights no shopping sprees she's got a roof over her head she can feed and cloth her children. Now let's say her child is sick vomiting need to see a doctor, this mother has no paid sick days she'll be loosing a days pay right off the back just because her child is sick, now remember she's barely covering her living expenses she doesn't have a car you know she can't take this sick child on the bus, so she's most likely going to have to call a taxi. So now she's already spending tomorrow's money, okay. If there are prescriptions, that tax is taken to a drug store where more money will be spent. Now let's say the doctor orders her child to stay home from school for a couple of days. If no families are able to help and she can't pay a babysitter, she's missing two more days at work. So remember she's already spent a day's pay that she hasn't earned by this time. So what happens? She can't meet her living it expenses and the downward spiral of trying to play catch up starts at that point and that brings me to one more part of this Bill's title, the word earned. As a business owner, I'm not handing out sick pay willingly, my workers are earning it. So being a small business owner is tough and the right thing to do is not always the easy thing to do, but the workers need the flexibility to be able to care for themselves and their families basically healthier our product safer and it's the right thing to thank you for this opportunity Thank you so much Rebbeca next I think that we're expecting senator Angela Brian to be here shortly but I wanted to go ahead and talk a little bit about the care giver relief act. What this act would do is provide expanded family and medical leave greater than what we already see with the family medical leave act federally it's the F. M. L. A the Family and Medical Leave Act is the first and only registration written specifically to help workers meet the dual responsibilities the family and work, and it was signed into law in 1993. Since its implementation the law has allowed more than 35 million workers to keep their jobs where they take care of family health crisis or welcome a new baby. F. M. L. A guarantees job protected and paid for up to 12 weeks to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, care for a seriously ill child, parent or spouse we cover from serious illness, but it doesn't go far enough. FMLA provides vital protection to workers who need to care for their families. but it doesn't provide enough, that's why we introduced the caregiver relief act, which expands eligibility for FMLA protected unpaid family medical [xx] to include the care of siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step parents, and in-laws, all part of an extended family of folks who are not currently covered under this act. So here today to talk a little bit about the whole idea of care giving, and what that involves. We have to talk with us today we have and that name has changed, it's Latisha[sp?] I think, is going to speak to us about that, so Latisha Thank you, good morning everyone, so grateful to have this opportunity. I am here today because I believe that this bill should be passed. My name is Latisha Selvy, I'm a childcare provider, and I need the family sick pay and family extended pay, it's very important. The number one priority for a childcare center is the safety and the health of that child. Technically I'm sick, or family member is sick I cannot come to work, why? Because I need someone to provide for my child or my grand child, so however, if I'm making 7.25 an hour, and I'm sick and I cannot really afford to stay out of work because I'll make 7.25 an hour, that's very stressful is not good at all, again the priority of the employer is to provide a safe and a healthy environment for the child. In other words, that puts the employee at risk, the employer, it puts the children at risk.

That's not healthy so what would you do if you have two, three workers out then you have children out, that's money that's lost. Thirdly again if I'm sick and I have to call out or my child is, again, I'm forced to come to work again because I'm not making enough money to provide. So if I'm forced to come to work and then I have to leave my child or my grand child, that forces and it puts me in a position where I may have to call up someone at the last minute, in turn pay them to keep my child or my grandchild. That's stress and in turn I'd have to come to work, again put myself at risk, other children, the employees and it's stressful I don't know personally to have to come to work in that position there's no way as a Daycare provider I can effectively take care of the children like I need to, why? Because I'm sick. Secondly, on my mind I'm thinking about my child or my grandchild that's home that can be a burden to someone else, again it's very very important, it's very important that this bill be passed it's safe for myself, it's safe for the employee, it's safe for the children. This bill needs to passed, that's why I'm here today even I had personal experience, and again a can remember me having to call out for work, and the director saying to me, you need to be here and you need to get someone to watch your child and that really really again it hurt me, because I was saying to myself again I'm forced to come into work, find someone to take care of my child and not being able to get and still have to come in or if I make this choose to say home again how can i? That puts an I'm actually being forced to a make a decision that again is not safe and that is not healthy, and this is why I believe registration should pass this bill so again it safe for the employee it safes money its says for the employee, employer and for the children. Thank you very much. Thank you next we have Corren Hall who is a professional the care giver will talk about the same bill as well I believe. I think. Okay so where would do it instead of that is a ask if there are any questions about either this fields we have legislature who are available to answer questions and we can either do that now or we can also do it after the press conference is concluded. Is there some other bill, what it would cost the state because obviously there would be some state implications. There would be and I do not have a fiscal notice yet but that is something that is in the work and we will know more about that as we get closer to being able to actually hear the billing committee this entry do we know whether its going to be heard in committee. We don't have it scheduled as yet, but it is, one thing that you need to be aware of is well, I'm sure you are cause you've been here for a while, is that the bills that are trying to get through now are the ones that are not tied to either appropriations or finance and so these are bills that can easily wait until after crossover date and so I'm sure that they are kind of like taking a little bit of a backseat to the ones that need to go and over to meet crossover on the 30th, yes. What kind of response have you got from leadership in the bill? I have had a lot of support from at least my leadership on the bill and it is yet to be seen what the chairs of those committees on the other side will have to say. Do legislators have any other comments they would like to say? Alright. We will be available to answer any questions for you if you have them, and thank you for your interest.