WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following President Obama’s announcement guaranteeing paid sick leave for more than 300,000 federal contractors this week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined efforts to extend paid sick leave to all workers. Too many Americans—including four in 10 private-sector workers—do not have a single paid sick day that they can use to care for themselves or to care for a sick family member.
“Ohioans should not have to choose between a paycheck and their health, or the health of a child,” Brown said. “While President Obama’s announcement that federal contractors will be required to provide up to seven days in paid sick leave is an important step, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Millions of private-sector workers – including 45 percent of the Ohio workforce – are still left unprotected. That’s why this is the time to pass the Healthy Families Act.”
During a news conference call today, Brown discussed the Healthy Families Act, legislation which would allow workers to earn paid sick time while protecting business owners. He was joined by Nick Pasquarello, who works at a restaurant in Columbus and does not have access to paid sick leave.
"It is imperative that paid sick days are the rule and not the exception, workers should not have to choose between their health and having food on the table,” Pasquarello, a member of the Central Ohio Worker Center, said.
The Healthy Families Act would:
- Allow workers to earn paid sick time to address medical needs and care for family members: Workers can earn up to 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick time—one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Workers could use this time to recover from illness, care for a sick family member, obtain preventative or diagnostic treatment, or to seek help if they are victims of domestic violence.
- Provide important worker protections while addressing business concerns: Employers with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from the bill. Employers with existing leave policies can maintain them as long as their existing leave policies meet minimum requirements described in the HFA. The bill also permits employers to require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.
- Decrease health costs and improve worker productivity by reducing the spread of disease: By reducing unnecessary emergency room visits, universal paid sick days would save the economy $1 billion in health care costs per year, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.