Family Values @ Work

Alma’s story

Alma’s story

January 15, 2014

I am a mother of three and a caretaker for my mother. I support my family by waitressing in a small local restaurant.

One of my biggest concerns is that one of my family members or I will get sick. I have no paid sick days and my employer has warned us that if we miss work do to health issues we will be fired.

In the seven years I’ve worked at this restaurant I’ve only left work once. My 13 year old daughter had a serious asthma attack. I rushed to the hospital with her and then quickly returned to my job. I had no one to watch her so my daughter waited outside in the car while I finished my shift. My boss threatened to fire me if I ever left work again during my shift.

Along with my daughter’s asthma, I worry about my mother who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease. I provide care for her and I worry what will happen if there is an emergency while I’m at work. Who will make decisions about her care?

I never consider calling in sick for my own illness. We don’t call in sick. Nobody has ever called in unless they were in the hospital. But even if I could keep my job, I can’t afford to lose a day’s wages. Losing a day’s wages is devastating for me and my family because it means I can’t buy groceries that week or complete my rent payment.

With paid sick days, I would be able to care for my daughter when she is sick, and worry less about her mother when I am at work.

Workers are human. We are people too, and we have the right to get sick and be able to heal and get better at home. We have the right to care for our family when they get sick, too.