New York (CNN Business)You may think that store and restaurant workers in America who catch Covid-19 are staying home to recover and keep the public safe.
But millions of frontline employees aren’t able to do that without missing a paycheck. So, many Americans, working precarious, low-wage jobs in the service industry, can’t stay home — even if they come down with the virus or are exposed to someone who’s been infected.
Some workers are struggling to get or afford testing to confirm they have been infected. Many don’t have paid sick leave and need to keep up with their bills. And others fear they will face repercussions from their bosses if they call out sick or feel added pressure to work because of severe staffing shortages.
The United States does not have national paid sick laws, unlike most industrialized countries, leaving wide gaps in paid sick leave access, especially in service sector jobs. In March 2021, 41% of service sector employees lacked paid sick leave, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, compared with 23% of all private sector workers.
Jobs in the service industry are also frequently part time, and those jobs are far less likely to include paid sick leave than full-time positions. The lower likelihood of paid sick leave for part-timers has a disproportionate impact on women, who are more likely than men to hold part-time jobs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation
When an assistant store manager at a Pandora jewelry store in Orlando, Florida, was exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19 the final week of 2021, she had to miss work without pay because she didn’t have paid leave.
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