National Paid Sick Days and Paid Family and Medical Leave Laws Critical for Working People

The following statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

Washington, DC, May 17, 2023 – We applaud Chairman Sanders (I-VT), Senator Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representative DeLauro (D-CT) for reintroducing the Healthy Families Act (HFA) and for making plans to reintroduce the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act soon. Together, these bills would help working people care for themselves and their families without sacrificing their job or paycheck. 

Over 20 percent of all workers and 60 percent of those paid the lowest wages – people who clean hotels, stock groceries, care for the elderly, and prepare and serve food – don’t have a single paid sick day. HFA would provide most workers with access to paid sick leave to take brief periods of time away from work when they need to attend to their and their family’s health.  

Similarly, 3 in 4 workers don’t have paid family leave through their employers, while 9 in 10 of the lowest-paid workers lack this critical benefit. FAMILY would ensure that working people can take up to 12 weeks away from work to address their own serious medical illness, bond with a new child, care for seriously ill loved ones, address family circumstances arising from a military deployment, and recover or seek assistance if they are survivors of domestic violence.

These bills are critical to public health and workers’ and families’ economic security. While all workers benefit, women – and especially women of color – would experience outsized benefits because of their outsized caregiving responsibilities. Through greater employment stability, these bills would also improve earnings and employment outcomes throughout workers’ lives.

In the tightest labor market in generations, American employers have failed to even come close to meeting workers’ needs for basic paid time off. Despite some progress through state and local policies, tens of millions of workers are left with impossible choices today. Only national policymakers can fully address these failures and shortcomings. Congress should move expeditiously to pass these bills into law.