DC Earned Sick Days, Testimony of Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn, Bright Start Childcare and Preschool


Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013



TO:                  Councilmember Vincent B. Orange, Sr., Chair, and Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs

Councilmember Jack Evans, Chair Committee on Finance and Revenue

FROM:             Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn, Owner, Bright Start Child Care and Preschool

DATE:             October 28, 2013


My name is Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn. I am the owner o f Bright Start Child Care and Preschool in Washington, D.C. Bright Start has been caring for and teaching children, since 2002, and has 17 employees. I strongly support the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013, Bill 20-0480. I also support Bill 20-459, the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, and urge the committee to combine the provisions of both of these bills into one piece of legislation for the Council to consider.

As an employer, I have experience implementing D.C.’s paid sick days law. Providing my workers with paid sick days has been neither costly, nor difficult. I believe it is crucial to provide my employees with time to recover from illness or care for sick family members – doing so enables them to do their jobs well, helps us retain our best employees, and allows us to provide excellent care to the children at our center. In my experience, employees do not abuse their sick days.

As both a business owner in the childcare field and a nurse, I am well aware of the public health implications of paid sick days. If childcare workers come to work sick, they not only put their coworkers’ health at risk, but also endanger the health of the vulnerable children that we care for. Moreover, when children are sick, they must stay home from daycare in order to recover so that they do not spread illness to the other members of our community. They need their parents to care for them at home, which require that their parent have paid sick days, too.

Unfortunately, in D.C. some parents are still forced to choose between the health of their children and their jobs – a choice no parent should have to make. Because D.C.’s law does not cover tipped restaurant workers, these employees struggle to find childcare when their children are sick. Like childcare workers, restaurant workers have close contact with the public. For both categories of workers, paid sick days are extremely important to ensuring that they do not spread illness.

In addition to leaving restaurant workers out, the existing sick day’s law requires workers to wait a full year before being able to use their sick days. However, workers or their children may become ill before they have been at their jobs for a full year. The health risks of going to work sick are just as significant when a worker has not yet been on the job for a year.

As an employer, childcare provider, health professional, and member of the community, I strongly urge the Committee to send a bill including both the provisions of the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 and those of the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 to the full Council.



Marcia St. Hilaire-Finn, RNC


Bright Start Childcare and Preschool


Source: Center for Law and Social Policy