Sen. Franken helps introduce bill to allow American workers to earn paid sick days
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Al Franken helped introduce legislation that would allow everyday workers to earn paid leave to use when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to address the impacts of domestic ...
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Al Franken helped introduce legislation that would allow everyday workers to earn paid leave to use when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
The Healthy Families Act 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 each year. Workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
"As lead Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, one of my top priorities is to fight for policies that support workplace fairness," said Franken in a news release. "The Healthy Families Act, which would give our workers the opportunity to earn paid leave, is essential to protecting the middle class and those aspiring to join the middle class."
Employers that already provide paid sick time will not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards outlined in the Healthy Families Act. Employers can also require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.
Summary of the Healthy Families Act
Today, 43 million private-sector workers do not have access to paid sick days. That forces many Americans to make the difficult choice of losing a day's pay - and in some cases losing their job - or showing up to work sick and potentially spreading an illness to others. Even when workers have personal sick days, those might not cover the times when a child is ill and needs to stay home from school. That forces many parents to make the impossible choice of caring for their family or risking their livelihood.
The Healthy Families Act would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to care for a family member and to address personal medical needs. Under this legislation, workers can earn up to 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick time. Workers earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
Workers can use this time to stay home and get well when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, to seek routine medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence.
Workers earning low wages are the least likely to have paid sick days, and are often unable to afford to take a day off when they are ill. This can pose public health risks because many low-wage jobs require interaction with the public, for example, caring for seniors or children, working in stores and hotels, or serving or preparing food in restaurants.
Research has shown that paid sick days can reduce the spread of contagious illnesses like the flu, reduce occupational injuries, result in more preventive cancer screenings and other preventive care, and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. For example, the American Journal of Public Health found that the lack of paid sick days contributed to an additional 5,000,000 cases of influenza-like illness during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.
Expanding access to paid sick days will help families, businesses, and the economy.
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, if all workers had access to paid sick days, emergency room visits would decline by 1.3 million visits a year, saving $1.1 billion annually. More than half of those savings would be to public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Nearly 20 states and localities have adopted policies that allow workers to earn paid sick days, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Connecticut, without posing adverse effects on businesses and the economy. Many employers in these localities expressed strong support for paid sick leave policies.
The Healthy Families Act provides important protections for workers and public health in a way that works for employers.
Small employers with fewer than 15 employees would not be required to provide paid sick days.
Employers that already provide this leave will not have to change their current policies, as long as their existing leave can be used for the same purposes described in the Act.
Employers can require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.