Do We Have Paid Sick Day in Hawaii?

by Dr. Arcelita Imasa

Does Hawaii require employers to offer some paid sick days or paid family and medical leave? I have family in other states such as California that offer this to all workers. It seems like a very sensible policy. 
– From Reader

Dear Reader,

Thank you for this very important question. Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is indeed an essential and smart public health policy.

If we learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that workers and family members should stay home if they have contagious diseases. And when children, elders or other family members need care, it is smart and compassionate to allow some paid time for a family member to care for them.

Thirteen states including California and D.C. now have some form of PFML.

Unfortunately, Hawai’i has yet to adopt this policy. The Hawai’i Workers Center and Hawai’i Children’s Action Network and others have advocated for this for several years. Governor Josh Green has said he supports some form of paid sick days/medical leave.

The state has conducted no less than three studies regarding the cost and ways to implement a PFML policy. It was found that a state-operated family leave insurance plan could cover all workers at an estimated cost of $58 per year per worker.

Small businesses and our state and counties should be able to afford to make that benefit available to their employees. This insurance would provide income and peace of mind for workers and their families during the 16-week period of family leave.

Paid family leave is doable and affordable. We are hopeful that the 2024 Hawai’i legislative session will adopt this critical policy and we will work hard to make it happen.

If you have a compelling story of why you need and support PFML we would love to hear from you!

Speaking of family, we would like to share our support for those affected by the Lahaina tragedy. Our hearts break for Maui. But Mau is strong and will recover with all of our help.

The Hawaii Workers Corner is raising funds for Emergency Kokua for those in need. We are also working to help workers who lost their jobs gain access to Unemployment Insurance and other services. We are also working to protect affordable housing.

In the first Hawaii Workers Corner column, we shared that many people covered by Med-Quest insurance need to be redetermined for eligibility. To those who received the pink insurance envelope, you must respond immediately.

We also want to let Maui residents know that all eligibility determination efforts and terminations of coverage have been paused at least through 2023.

Med-QUEST stands in support of our Maui Nui community and has paused all terminations and eligibility renewals for Maui County through 2023.

Hawaii Workers Center

DR. ARCELITA IMASA is a practicing family physician and the secretary of the Hawaii Workers Center’s Executive Committee of the Board. She grew up in the Philippines before migrating to Hawaii with her family more than a decade ago.

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