Worker health and wellness

Obama on paid sick days: ‘The right thing’

Barack Obama -- August 2013
Barack Obama

Washington – President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee all working Americans the right to paid sick leave.

In his annual State of the Union address on Jan. 20, the president said the 43 million U.S. workers who have no paid sick days are forced to make a choice between earning a paycheck or staying home when they or a child are ill.

“Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Proponents of the legislation claim that employees without paid sick leave are more susceptible to workplace injuries when they work while ill and are more likely to spread illnesses among co-workers.

Paid sick leave legislation has support among congressional Democrats. Among Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, many oppose additional federal mandates and claim that requiring paid sick leave could cost employers nearly $12 billion over five years and make hiring new workers more difficult.