Push For Earned Sick Leave Continues

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) have reintroduced legislation that would let workers earn paid sick leave that can be used for their own illness, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. As expected, the Healthy Families Act, which never made it out of committee last year, was submitted for another try on February 12. The measure has been put before lawmakers every year since 2004.

The bill (H.R. 932, S. 497) would allow workers in businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours or seven days of job-protected, paid sick leave every year. One hour of paid sick time would be earned for every 30 hours worked. Workers at a business with fewer than 15 employees would be able to earn up to seven job-protected days of unpaid sick leave annually. Employers that already provide paid sick time would not be required to change their current policies as long as they meet the minimum standards outlined in the Healthy Families Act. Employers would also be able to require workers to provide documentation to support any request for leave longer than three consecutive days. Additional information about the measure is provided in a fact sheet. DeLauro, a longtime advocate for policies that benefit working Americans, has introduced the Healthy Families Act in every Congress since 2004. Murray has been an original cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act since 2004.

Last month, President Barack Obama pressed Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act and urged states to pass legislation that would give more workers access to paid leave. Putting his money where his mouth is, Obama proposed funding that would help states and municipalities figure out how to make earned sick-time and paid leave a reality. The White House outlined the president’s planned steps to advance the reality of earned sick time in a fact sheet.

“Everyone should be able to take care of themselves and their families when they are sick without having to worry about losing their jobs,” said DeLauro, senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the departments of Labor, and Health and Human Services. “The
United States is the only developed country that does not require employers to offer paid sick days. I am proud that my home state of Connecticut was the first in the nation to pass a paid sick days law, back in 2011. Since then it has spread to California, Massachusetts, and nearly 20 cities. We need to take it national. The Healthy Families Act is smart policy that needs to become law.” “It is unacceptable that for 43 million of our nation’s workers, catching the flu or needing to care for a sick family member means losing a day of pay, or even losing a job,” said Murray, ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “No one should ever have to choose between their health, or a loved one’s health, and their economic security, but our outdated policies are forcing too many workers to make that kind of choice. That needs to change, which is why it’s time to pass the Healthy Families
Act and help make sure our economy works for all families, not just those at the top.”

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