September 26, 2013

Expansion of the District’s law on paid sick days to include bar and restaurant workers [“Plan would expand paid sick leave,” Metro, Sept. 17] is badly needed. It is unfortunate that opponents are trotting out the same baseless, discredited arguments they used five years ago to try to block progress.

The District would not be the first jurisdiction to cover restaurant workers. Since its sick-leave law took effect, several cities and one state have adopted laws about paid sick days — and the sky-is-falling predictions about jobs and the economy have not come true. In fact, just-released data on Seattle’s paid-sick-leave law, which covers restaurant workers, show that the number of businesses and food service jobs has increased since it took effect. And Seattle’s unemployment rate is lower than Washington state’s and the country’s.

Paid sick days benefit the public health, yet the District law excludes the very workers whose jobs require frequent public interaction. For the sake of our city, its residents, workers, businesses and economy, let’s strengthen and expand the law.

Debra L. Ness, Washington

The writer is president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.