Worker health and wellness

DeLauro, Murray reintroduce legislation on paid sick days

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Patty Murray

Washington – Two congressional Democrats have reintroduced legislation that would require employers to offer paid sick days to workers.

The reintroduction of the Healthy Families Act in the House and Senate comes less than a month after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to voice support for granting all workers the right to earn paid sick leave.

The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), have pushed for the legislation since 2004.

If passed, the Healthy Families Act would allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave every year. Workers at businesses with fewer than 15 employees would earn up to seven days of job-protected unpaid sick leave yearly.

Employees without paid sick days are more likely to go to work while ill, potentially spreading infectious diseases to co-workers, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families, a proponent of sick-day legislation. Paid sick leave will reduce the risk of a contagion spreading, lower health care costs and provide more economic security for families, NPWF claims.

Three states currently have laws guaranteeing worker access to paid sick days. Paid sick leave mandates also have passed on the local level in several municipalities, most recently in Philadelphia and Tacoma, WA.