Rev. Nathan Dannison is Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo.
MLive Guest column by Rev. Nathan Dannison
Why should a church pastor care whether or not Michigan employees receive paid sick leave? For a very simple reason. Because the church cares about sick people.
The church has always cared for the sick, it’s in our DNA. Our founder was not only a prophet and a messiah, he was a healer. He was a physician who tended to those who were ill. Forcing people to work when they are sick is immoral and counterproductive.
Our church provides paid sick leave for all of our employees. We believe this is not only a justice issue but also a very pragmatic and obvious means of keeping our most vulnerable community members safe and healthy. Our employment policies have real-world implications for our membership. Our nursery workers do not have to choose between keeping their job and reporting in sick.
Some shortsighted opponents of earned sick leave claim that this will hurt businesses. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A healthy and confident workforce is the pillar of a sturdy regional economy.
In reality, forcing workers to choose between keeping their job and staying home, or sacrificing income, represents a real hardship and immediate danger to the general public. A recent CDC study of low wage restaurant workers showed that 60 percent admitted to preparing or serving food while sick.
This isn’t just about common colds or a case of the sniffles either. For newborns, elderly folks, and people with compromised immune systems, this represents a life-or-death reality.
America is the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t provide mandatory earned sick leave. Our elected leaders can and should remedy this situation. It’s the moral choice when it comes to the health of our citizens.