DeLauro and Murray Introduce Bill to Provide Paid Sick and Safe Days across the Nation

Washington, D.C.—Federal lawmakers introduced a bill today that would give workers across the country access to paid sick and safe days, a crucial workplace protection. The Healthy Families Act, reintroduced by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), would enable nearly 41 million workers to earn sick days. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), which has documented how low-income families struggle without paid sick days, urges Congress to act swiftly to pass the bill.

Access to paid sick days is deeply stratified by income level, with just 41 percent of wage earners in the bottom 25 percent having access, compared to 87 percent in the top quartile. In addition, just 46 percent of Latino workers have access to paid sick days, compared to 63 percent of White workers and 62 percent of Black workers.

“For low-income working families, paid sick days provide vital support,” said CLASP Executive Director Olivia Golden. “The Healthy Families Act will provide millions of workers with greater financial stability while helping to address racial and economic inequities that have lasting effects on our nation and our communities.”

Lack of paid sick days has serious consequences for workers, families, public health, businesses, and the economy. As many as one in seven workers have lost their jobs because they were sick or needed to care for a loved one. When families lose income or jobs simply because of caring for their health, it jeopardizes their economic security, as well as that of their community. Lost wages are lost dollars that would otherwise be spent in local businesses and elsewhere.

The reintroduction of the Healthy Families Act comes as a growing number of states and localities are passing their own paid sick days standards. To date, 7 states and 31 cities and counties have enacted paid sick days laws. Public opinion polling tracks closely with these wins; over two in three voters support establishing federal public policy on paid sick days.

A national paid sick days standard would benefit not only workers, but also employers.  Because they find it reduces turnover and boosts employee morale, hundreds of employers have voiced their support for local and state paid sick days legislation. Moreover, research in jurisdictions that have implemented such laws shows that most businesses experience negligible or no cost increases while enjoying increased employee productivity and reduced turnover.

Keith Mestrich, president and C.E.O. of Amalgamated Bank, described how the law would help his business and customers: “As an employer, we’ve seen the advantages of paid sick days in action—the policy helps us retain good workers who are able to give us 100 percent while they’re on the job. We want our customers to have this same support. We know that for most people, especially low-income workers, saving is nearly impossible if they must sacrifice their wages or jobs in order to care for themselves or a sick loved one. Amalgamated Bank supports the Healthy Families Act to ensure that our customers, and all Americans, have the paid sick days they need for a chance at financial stability.”

The Healthy Families Act would guarantee that people working for companies and organizations with more than 15 employees would have the ability to earn up to seven paid sick days. Those working for smaller employers would be able to earn up to seven job-protected, unpaid sick days. The law would allow workers to use sick and safe days to take time for services and care needed by survivors of domestic or sexual violence as well as to care for themselves or loved ones while sick.

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The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for low-income people. With nearly 50 years of trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and a commitment to practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all, CLASP lifts up the voices of poor and low-income children, families, and individuals, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. The organization’s solutions directly address the barriers that individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status, in addition to low income. For more information, visit www.clasp.org and follow @CLASP_DC.