Monday, December 4, 2017

Why Paid Time Off and Affordable Health Insurance is so important.

At anytime there is an in home care provider taking care of an elderly or disabled individual who is susceptible to getting sick. As Care Providers it's our responsibility to stay home when we are sick. However currently in Idaho in home care providers don't get paid sick leave. So if we don't work we don't get paid. Which then forces us to have to decided if we are going to work and put our clients health at risk, or if we are going to stay home and lose money that could pay for food or other bills.

For example I have to take my wife up to Spokane, Washington for a medical appointment. However it's during a time when I would normally be working. I have to take the day off, because the Agency I currently work for doesn't offer paid time off, so as a result I'll be losing close to $90 for taking that day so my wife can go to a medical appointment. This isn't how it should work. We should have Paid time off, and when we are sick we should have a separate bucket we can pull from for paid sick leave. Right now If I were to get really sick, I would have to just keep working and hope that I didn't get my morning or afternoon clients sick as a result.

Paid sick leave is important because without it we take the risk of getting our clients sick and in some cases it means taking a risk with our clients lives. Because we are forced to work even when we are sick or injured. For example if I break my arm, which would take between 4 to 6 weeks to heal, I would have to work that whole time because If I didn't I wouldn't be able to pay my rent, or my other bills. Let alone be able to pay for the medical care that I would need because of a broken arm. Why because my agency also doesn't offer any kind of health insurance.

Being able to have the option for self care and being able to take time off to tend to family members is very important. It allows us to have to the time when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are just too burnt out to give the quality care we need to give to our clients, to be able to take that time off and recharge and get refocused. We can't work 52 weeks a year and not have a few weeks to be able to get away and decompress. Right now in Idaho there is no requirements for the following as of September 2013
Vacation, holiday, severance or sick pay, A discharge notice or a reason for discharge, Rest periods, breaks, lunch breaks, holidays off or vacations, Premium pay rates for weekends or holidays worked, Pay raises or fringe benefits, A limit on the number of hours an employee can work, per day or week for employees 16 years of age or older.
Most Agencies take advantage of the fact the don't have to provide any of that to their providers, because they feel the In Home Care Providers are disposable and replaceable. So if you get sick, they can just replace you with someone else off the street. So we need the protection of a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) which is what the Union Negotiates for us. Paid Sick leave and Paid time off are just two of the items Unionize Idaho is looking to get for the 20,000 or so Providers currently working in the state of Idaho.

In order to get the basic benefits that anyone should get when employed by a business Home Care Aides (HCAs), In Home Care Providers, Personal Care Aides (PCAs), will need to join together in one voice and say that we deserve more than to be treated like disposable workers. We deserve a living wage, we deserve affordable health care, we deserve paid sick leave, and we deserve paid time off as well as a Retirement plan.

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