No Paid Sick Leave? What You Need to Know About the Healthy Families Act
Despite the reality that everyone gets sick at some point and the fact that public health experts advise us to stay home when it happens to us, there are still many workers in the United States who do not have any paid sick leave. For many working-class and middle-class employees, this means effectively that they have no sick leave at all, because they cannot afford to miss out on a day’s wages. However, there is a possibility that this problem could be fixed, at least for employees of large and mid-sized employers.
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The Healthy Families Act
A bill called the Healthy Families Act, also known as H.R. 1286, is currently before Congress. If passed, this law would require certain employers who have 15 or more employees at least 20 weeks a year to provide at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours an employee works, at least until the employee accrues 56 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year. Employees would be allowed to use this time to meet their own medical needs, care for certain family members including parents, children, domestic partners, domestic partners’ parents, and domestic partners’ children. The time could also be used for certain activities related to dealing with domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Almost Half of Private Sector Workers Are Not Entitled to Paid Sick Leave
CNN reports that President Obama is pushing Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act. In that same report it cites statistics from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research that show that over 40 percent of private sector workers in the United States do not get paid sick leave in the status quo. While some cities like San Francisco and states like Connecticut have mandated paid sick leave, most states and municipalities have not done so.
Even if Law Passes, We Will Trail Behind Other Countries on Family Leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees of certain employers in the United States are guaranteed six weeks of parental leave but it can be unpaid leave if the company so chooses. If the Healthy Families Act passes, workers will have the ability to earn up to seven days of paid leave that could be used after the birth of a child. But other countries provide substantially more family leave. According to a Time Magazine report, other countries provide the following:
● United Kingdom: 52 weeks of leave at 90 percent pay
● Canada: 17 weeks of leave at 55 percent pay
● France: 16 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay
● Netherlands: 16 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay
● Germany: 14 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay
● Japan: 14 weeks of leave at 60 percent pay
● China: 14 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay
● India: 12 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay
Tell Us What You Think
Do you know someone who has had to work sick or work despite having a sick child, because he or she could not afford to miss a day’s wages? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.