Worker Health and Wellness Legislation

Murray, DeLauro reintroduce legislation on paid sick leave

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Washington – Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on March 13 reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, which would allow workers to accrue up to seven sick days annually, to be used when they or a family member are ill.

About 41 million U.S. workers lack access to paid sick leave, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Under the act, workers would earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

“It is unacceptable that 41 million people across the country have to take time off – or risk losing their job – if they catch the flu, if their child is sick, or if they have to take care of a sick parent,” Murray said in a March 15 press release. “No one should have to choose between their health and their economic security, but our outdated policies are forcing too many workers to make that kind of choice. We are seeing the benefits of paid sick days in seven states and more than 30 cities across the country and it’s time our national policy catches up to ensure all hardworking families are able to care for themselves and loved ones when they need it the most.”

Studies have shown that providing sick time to employees can help reduce the spread of disease and decrease injuries sustained on the job. In addition, a recent report from the Center for American Progress, a policy research and advocacy organization, found that policies for paid sick days and family and medical leave do not result in increased unemployment.

“Not only is it in the best interest of the employee to be able to take a sick day, it benefits the employee’s colleagues and employer,” Murray said in the release. “We must enact workplace policies that work for a 21st Century economy and our nation’s employees and employers. The Healthy Families Act is a smart policy that should become law.”

Businesses with existing sick leave policies would not have to change procedures provided they met the act’s minimum standards, the release states, and employers with fewer than 15 employees would be exempt from the law.

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