Four Roman Catholic bishops in Massachusetts said Thursday that their support of a ballot question that, if approved, would require companies to provide paid sick time for employees was driven by a desire to maintain the “dignity” of every worker.
The bishops, in an open letter, urged Massachusetts citizens to vote “yes” on Ballot Question 4 on Nov. 4.
If approved by voters, the proposal would allow workers to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year, earning one hour for every 30 hours worked. Companies with 10 or fewer employees would be exempt.
“Today, those without sick time are oftentimes forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a day’s pay, in many cases threatening the loss of their job,” the bishops wrote. “Tragically, many are forced to send a sick child to school to save their income or their job. These are the same individuals who earn the least amount and struggle to provide the basic needs for themselves and their families.”
Paid sick time is in line with Catholic teaching, they said.
“The social teaching of the Catholic Church has long been clear on the essential nature of work for the maintenance of the dignity of the human person,” they said.
The letter was signed by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley; Worcester Bishop Robert McManus; Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski; and Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha.
Business groups call the question a shortsighted, one-size-fits-all approach that ignores economic realities facing many employers. It is a particular burden on smaller businesses which would have to pay two people — the sick person and their fill-in.