Paid time off is a slam dunk
Editor of the Reformer:
A couple of months ago, I had a chance to attend the Vermont Business Roundtable's Second annual breakfast. I was at this event because my company, Chroma Technology, was a sponsor for this event and an invitation was extended for participation. It was at that event that I met with Ashley Moore of Main Street Alliance, a statewide advocacy group seeking to influence policy change in the areas of health care and paid sick time. I remember discussing the beneficial aspects of Paid Time Off for my family personally to her, saying that as a father to a 2 year old with another on the way, having this time off was a lifesaver in keeping the family balance while undergoing this huge transition from a married couple with no children to full-fledged parents. I was glad to hear of the effort to ensure that all Vermont workers have Paid Time Off.
Boiled down to its essence, aside from the opportunity to rest and recover from illness, Paid Time Off has allowed me the dignity to 'be there' when I have been needed. Being a new father has necessitated unplanned trips to the pediatrician, unscheduled baby duty, and tending to my wife's side while she recovers from illness. I've used PTO to take care of our child when my wife was unable to schedule a dentist appointment outside of my working hours. It has allowed me a dignity that, it turns out, many other hard-working people in Vermont do not enjoy. I think this should change.
If life were perfect, paid time off would not be needed. But life can be messy. People get sick. Children may need to be picked up early with little notice. Paid Time Off is a recognition of this; not only that some absences cannot be scheduled, but that the well-being of the employee improves his/her performance while on duty by allowing him/her to tend to these distractions. It is also a recognition that the employee's life outside of work matters.
Sometimes you need to be asked about something in order to realize how important it is. That is the effect sitting down to write this letter has had for me. It has forced me to think of how my life would be different in different circumstances (i.e. no access to 'PTO'). There is a tendency to take things for granted unless they are lost. Let's not take this for granted. Let's make sure all Vermont workers can earn paid time off. It is the right thing to do. I believe current legislation aiming to provide paid time off to all workers will be a slam dunk for the employee, the employer, and Vermont. And I hope you feel the same.