Home Sick

At writing this, Pickle is tucked soundly in bed with his lovey clutched tightly to his chest. It is 30 minutes into a school day, he’s home sick and I am lucky enough to be home with him. We have a lot of advantages that most families don’t have. I have been at my job for 12 years so I have a lot of paid time off (by USA standards), I have a flexible work schedule, and because there are three adults in our home I don’t always have to be the one who stays home.

It is a startling when you think that 23% of all US workers have no paid vacation time at all. If you only work part-time your odds are even less. 65% of part time employees have no vacation time, and the percentage of employees in the USA that work part time is on the rise.  While the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  in 1993 was a decent start, it has a lot of shortcomings. FMLA does not cover colds or upset tummies, and employees don’t get paid.

This a problem that affects a lot of families in the US, most parents are in the workforce. In 59.1% of married couples both parents work, 73.3% of single mothers and 81.7% of single fathers work.

What is the solution to this problem? I think mandated paid vacation/sick time is the key. Being able to take time off either for your health or your families health should be considered a basic right. Not all parents can, or even want to, be home full time.

I guess this is mostly a short post to prompt thinking and get ideas from other parents. Pickle is up and now comes the time when I have to figure out how to get a bored seven year old to rest and get better. I’ll happily take suggestions on how to solve either problem in the comments!


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I'm thirty-something and lucky enough have a job doing SCIENCE! I live in Madison, WI with five chickens, three dogs, two partners and one munchkin. Someday I would love to live on a big compound with my whole poly-family and goats.

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  1. Germany has:
    -25 days of paid holiday (6 days a working week, but this is the absolute minimum)
    -paid sick leave. Your employer can deduct 20% of your pay for the first 5 days, unless your union contract says otherwise. You get paid for 6 weeks. After that you receive 67% of your net salary from your health insurance for up to 1.5 years.
    -if you need to take care of your sick kids and not spend your holidays, you can take time off at 67% from your health insurance again.
    Sounds great?
    The pitfall is that this brilliant system stems from a time when people had steady full or part time jobs, so many people nowadays don’t get those benefits. My friend used to work as a freelance teacher and he had to release himself from hospital after he was diagnosed with boreliosis. Because he couldn’t afford to stay there any longer if he wanted to make enough money to pay his rent. Also, as a student I’m at the mercy of my lecturers: many are very understanding that I might miss more than the two sessions, but I cannot rely on that and a belly bug that gets passed around by the end of the term can mean zero credits for half a year of hard work.

    1. The thought of missing out on credits after working so hard sounds awful! A stomach bug is an awful reason to put off graduation, probably not what you want to be thinking about while trying to decide if you are going to stay home.

  2. Instead of minimum wage, minimum income. We have enough wealth in this country to give all adults a minimum income. Employment would help on top of that. So if you are sick, if you need a leave of absence, you have money to fall back on. If you are a stay at home parent, you still make the minimum income!

    And then, if the conservatives want, they can get rid of the minimum wage. Once everyone is able to survive without a wage, it’s possible that the free market would actually be able to be a fair place to bid for labor.

      1. Thanks, but it’s actually an idea that’s been gaining some traction lately, including among conservative economists! Turns out that if you want growth, you have to make sure that spending increases, and that is helped by having more people have more money, instead of just a few having it all! It’s sort of the second coming of Roosevelt: Laissez Faire capitalism tends towards collapse, so set a solid framework of social supports underneath it and you can let it work on TOP!
        It would still undervalue staying at home with your kids, but it would be a huge step forward!

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