by Salvatore Babones, Truthout, 12/26/11
On January 1, Connecticut will become the first state in the United States to require at least some employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The Connecticut law covers only a fraction of the state’s workers, caps the required paid sick leave at five days per year and explicitly excludes the state’s most vulnerable workers: day laborers and temp workers. Still, it’s a start.
One-third of all American workers – including 79 percent of low-wage workers – don’t get any sick days at all….
Among cities, San Francisco and Washington, DC, have paid sick leave laws and Seattle is introducing paid sick leave next September. San Francisco and Washington also have living wage ordinances that set citywide minimum wages at levels substantially higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. In fact, San Francisco leads the country with a local minimum wage of $9.92 an hour.
Across the Pacific in Australia, the national statutory minimum wage is $15.51 an hour in Australian dollars. Over the past three years, the Australian dollar has been roughly equal in value to the American dollar, so the figure in American dollars is about the same. One Australian dollar roughly equals one American dollar.
Only about 2 percent of Australians, however, are covered by the minimum wage. The rest are covered by industry-wide agreements that are negotiated by the government on behalf of workers. The minimum wage in most of these agreements (including, for example, for adult fast food workers) is $17.03 an hour.
But wait, there’s more: full-time permanent employees in Australia, from toilet cleaners to chief executives, get at least ten sick days, 20 vacation days and (depending on the state) ten or more paid holidays every year. Everyone. All over Australia….
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