Nearly 28 million people working in the private sector in the U.S. have no access to earned sick time, or “paid sick leave” (PSL), for short-term health needs and preventive care. Working people in the United States face an impossible choice when they are sick: to stay home and risk their economic stability, or to go to work and risk their health and the public’s health.
Our Theory of Change
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, ICCR’s members quickly mobilized to call on companies to adopt and implement comprehensive PSL policies, prioritizing actions to protect frontline workers in retail, restaurants, and other priority sectors. PSL policies protect the health of workers and customers and reduce risks to the company, creating a win-win for worker rights and long-term value creation. To maintain these positive outcomes, it is critical for companies to offer PSL as a longstanding employee benefit that continues beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advancing Worker Justice Objective 2.2: Paid Sick Leave & Related Benefits: Provide a permanent paid sick leave benefit, and other related health benefits to direct (including part-time) and contract workers.
ICCR’s Unique Role
ICCR’s Advancing Worker Justice Program brings together investors, workers, and NGOs to co-develop advocacy strategies to advance worker rights. ICCR’s PSL campaign is intended to be a multi-year initiative, progressing from advocacy on policy adoption and disclosure to effective implementation. Policy change is an important first step, but hearing directly from workers about whether or not they can freely exercise their paid sick days allows investors to hold companies accountable when practice does not align with stated commitments.
Recent ICCR Actions to Advance Paid Sick Leave
ICCR members issued an Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response, sent investor letters to companies and legislators, and engaged companies directly through dialogues and shareholder resolutions on adopting paid sick leave policies. ICCR members’ shareholder resolutions on paid sick leave first went to a vote in 2022, overcoming the ordinary business challenges that led to the omission of proposals from 2021 proxies. The proposals received 26% shareholder support at CVS and 33.8% at TJX, a strong showing for first-time filings.
As some companies that initially adopted paid sick leave policies have started to reduce paid sick time despite new COVID-19 variants presenting continued risks to workers, ICCR’s members will continue to keep the pressure on for the 2023 filing season. Companies that were unresponsive to initial ICCR requests to engage on paid sick leave may be subject to investor escalation through shareholder proposals or other tactics.
In addition to investor engagement on paid sick leave, broader work to advocate for a living wage and comprehensive benefits packages for workers is a top priority for ICCR’s Advancing Worker Justice program. Alongside worker voice, a living wage has a significant influence on improving worker well-being, enabling workers to meet their basic needs and pursue other personal and professional goals. We are developing strategies to integrate living wage requests into ongoing investor engagements on paid sick leave and other worker rights topics.
2023 AWJ Program Work on Paid Sick Leave
13 companies engaged (Amazon, Best Buy, CVS, Denny's, Dine Brands, Fedex, Hilton, Norfolk, Target, TJX, Union Pacific, YUM, Macy's)
9 shareholder proposals filed (CVS, Denny's, Fedex, Hilton, Norfolk, TJX, Union Pacific, YUM, Macy's)
10 ICCR members leading engagements (United Church Funds, Trillium Asset Management, Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, TX, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Unitarian Universalist Association, Impact Shares, Figure 8 Investment Strategies, Mercy Investment Services, Domini Impact Investments, Seventh Generation Interfaith)