Today is Mother’s Day. Across the State of Illinois, many of us will contact our own mother – perhaps via Zoom this year – and others will remember mothers no longer with us. Like every year, we will discuss how much we love mothers and how important they are to our individual lives and to our society.
The value of mothers has never been more clear than 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic has added a lot of new parental responsibilities that have disproportionately fallen on mothers. But words are not enough to express our appreciation - we must act.
Illinois should pass the Healthy Workplace Act – a bill that would benefit mothers across the state by allowing them to earn up to five paid sick days a year.
More than 40 percent of workers nationally – and over 80 percent of low-wage workers – do not get a single paid sick day. While recent efforts led to legislative changes that created access to paid sick for hundreds of thousands of workers in Chicago and Cook County, there are 1.5 million Illinois workers outside Cook County who still have no right to a single paid sick day.
Access to paid sick leave is an issue that is extremely important for working mothers. Workers who earn lower wages or work part-time – both of which are more likely to be women – typically have less access to paid sick days. Women of color are less likely than white women to have access to paid sick days. This means that enacting paid sick leave policies will disproportionately benefit women and specifically women of color.
At the same time, over half of working mothers do not have a single sick day that they can use to care for a sick child, while nearly 20 percent have been disciplined for taking time off to care for a child or family member. Mothers are ten times more likely than fathers to take time off to care for a sick child. Having access to paid sick days would help mothers care for their families and themselves.
Illinois mothers deserve better support caring for their families than we are currently giving them. They deserve paid sick time no matter where they live or how much money they make.