My name is Josefa, I am a member of New Labor, I live in New Brunswick and I have a 5 year old daughter. I work in a restaurant in the kitchen and sometimes as a cashier. At a previous job (at a different branch of the chain restaurant I currently work at), when I had to ask off to take sick leave, maybe just for one or two days, and my boss didn’t like it, but I had to take off.
It’s hard because we have no paid sick days, so when I missed work I would lack money at home. It was a problem because it really affected me and it affected my daughter. Sometimes when I got sick or when my daughter got sick, I had to miss work, and my boss would get upset, saying, “If you can’t work, or don’t want to work, then it’s best if I look for another person.” When my daughter was about three years old she got sick once and I called work to ask off and they told me I had to go to work. So I had to leave my daughter with a friend. It was really hard for me to leave her, children don’t get better as fast as when you are not with them and having to leave her made me feel really very bad.
Another time I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for my daughter and when I asked off for the appointment, work refused to let me off, so the day of the appointment I had no choice but to leave an hour early, but then I returned to work a few hours later, even though my shift was over because they called me back in.
One realizes that really sometimes your rights are not valued and really what matters to [the employer] is their business, only making money and for them, the well-being of their employees doesn’t matter.
When I became pregnant I had to take off two months of work and my boss let me but he did not like it since they had to hire another person, but I wasn’t getting paid anyways. When I returned to work, they said it was fine but only for about two weeks, then they gave another person who worked the afternoon shift my morning shift and moved me to work in the evenings from 5 to 9pm.
It was difficult because I had to travel to work. Sometimes I had to spend almost more than I earned in transportation, cabs are so expensive so I had to be travel by bus which took a long time. So after working like that about a week, I talked to my boss and let him know it was really affecting me and my family because I wasn’t making enough money. And I was a good worker; I had worked there almost five years. But I could see they were not interested in how good of worker I was or how long I worked there. I asked him if he could give me more hours, or at least switch my shift, but he said no. He told me, “You want to stay fine, but if you don’t like it then go.” I told him I did not like it so he told me to punch out and go home. I felt really bad because I liked my job. It was actually painful.
Things like this don’t just happen to me, they happen to many others. We just make enough to pay the babysitter and rent, but there are so many expenses. And I was a single mom so it was very difficult for me. So it is very important for me to have paid sick days and it’s also important for the welfare of the public. When people don’t have paid sick days they go to work sick, with fever or the flu, but they go so because they can’t miss work. And it is also an issue for food contamination that impacts the consumer. It’s really a difficult situation because one goes to work sick so they don’t lose their job or because they are just afraid of losing their job. When I do it, I do it because I have a daughter and I really need to work and make money. That’s why it’s important for me to have paid sick days.