A bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees was reintroduced in both the House and Senate on May 12, 2011 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984) would allow employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours (seven days) annually. Employees could take this leave to attend to their own or a family member’s illness, or use the paid time off for preventative care such as medical appointments. In addition, the bill provides leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault. Employers with 15 or more employees would be covered by the law.
Employees would be entitled to avail themselves of sick leave – which begins accruing from the first day of employment under the bill – after 60 days. Paid sick leave would carry over from year to year, but may not exceed 56 hours unless the employer permits additional accrual. The Act would require medical certification if more than three consecutive days are taken off. If an employee leaves his or her job and is rehired within 12 months, that employee would be entitled to the accrued leave already earned and would be entitled to take sick leave immediately.
Employers that already have in place paid time off policies that allow employees to take such leave for illness and other circumstances outlined in the Healthy Families Act would not need to modify their policies or permit additional paid time off.
In a statement, Rep. DeLauro claimed that “simply showing up to work when you are sick, known as ‘presenteeism,’ costs employers a staggering $160 billion a year in lost productivity,” adding, “It is in the best interests of our nation, and especially our families, to ensure American workers have access to paid sick days.”
Similar versions of this legislation have been introduced since 2004, but have failed to advance. The current bill is unlikely to gain much traction.
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