Theraflu Fights For National Paid Sick Leave


Last month, we wrote about a Rhode Island Department of Health ad campaign encouraging residents to stay home when they have respiratory illnesses.

In 35 other states, though, more than 28 million workers must choose between staying home and getting paid.

An October Wakefield Research study of 1,000 Americans sponsored by Haleon’s Theraflu brand found that 69% of employed people in the U.S. had worked while sick instead of taking a day off during the previous 12 months.

“Everyone should have the right to rest and recover,” declares Pam Remash, marketing director for Haleon’s cough, cold, flu brand portfolio, to Parma & Health Insider. “It shouldn’t be a privilege for a few of us who work at companies that offer that benefit.”

Theraflu has been putting its money behind that thought for the past three years through its “Right to Rest & Recover” initiative. Remash calls it a “purpose” campaign that’s “not about product, but actually about making a difference and standing for something beyond ourselves.”

During its first two years, Right to Rest &Recover focused on awareness of the issue and initiated a Rest and Recover Fund that to date has given more than 2,000 grants of $200 for one day of paid sick leave.

This year, the gloves are off as Theraflu has teamed up with nonprofit A Better Balance to begin fighting for change.

The push centers around an online petition that Remash says aims to “make enough noise to get the attention of senators to drive change in each of the [35] states.” The drive, which started in January and had reached 9,000 signatures as of early February, triggers “get well” e-cards “signed” by state residents to their U.S. senators when incidents of cold and flu in their states reach certain levels.

The overall aim is passage of the national Healthy Families Act, which would require paid sick leave across the country.

While Remash stresses that Right to Rest & Recover is apolitical -- “we believe everyone should have that right regardless of political affiliation” -- the Healthy Families Act was introduced last year by Sen. Bernie Sanders and co-sponsored by 42 other Democratic senators. The Act has yet to move out of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Even in states with sick day laws, some industries tend to not fall under them.

Remash points to service, hospitality and food workers as among those who tend not to get paid time off, so Theraflu has now teamed up with a celebrated example: “Iron Chef” champion and cooking show host Justin Sutherland.

“He actually cares about the cause,” Remash says, since Sutherland himself has experienced the issue. After a recent boating accident, for example, “he felt like he couldn’t work and when he couldn’t work, it’s hard to get paid.”

In a statement, Sutherland also recalls “the pressure of being a young line cook, living paycheck to paycheck and afraid to get sick, simply because I couldn’t afford to.”

Sutherland is helping to spread the Right to Rest & Recover message through videos and social media.

Also on board to drive awareness, Remash reveals, are retailers like Walmart and Kroeger, both in-store and using their own paid media.

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