DeLauro introduces bill to allow workers to earn paid sick days

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has reintroduced legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence.

“Everyone should be able to take care of themselves and their families when they are sick without having to worry about losing their jobs,” DeLauro said. “But in today’s America too many of our workers are unable to do this and the economy suffers because of it.

“Showing up to work when you are sick,” she said, “costs employers a staggering $160 billion a year in lost productivity and further spreads sickness to others.”

Many workers don’t get paid sick days

DeLauro, a Democrat whose district includes part of Shelton, co-authored the Healthy Families Act with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa.

According to the two federal legislators, 40% of private-sector American workers have no access to paid sick days, including 70% of low-wage earners, such as food service, hospitality, nursing home care and childcare employees.

Harkin said this means “they cannot miss a day of work without risking a day’s pay or even their job security.”

Details of the legislation

The DeLauro-Harkin bill would allow workers to earn up to 56 hours — or seven days — of paid sick leave. Workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Employers that already provide paid sick time would not have to change their current policies, as long as their existing time can be used for the same purposes. Employers also could require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.

Has introduced same bill in past

DeLauro has introduced the Healthy Families Act in every Congress since 2004. Her home state of Connecticut was the first in the nation to ensure service workers have access to paid sick leave, under legislation passed after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took office.

In a 2008 University of Chicago survey, one in six workers reported that they or a family member have been fired, suspended, punished or threatened with being fired for taking time off due to personal or family illness, according to DeLauro and Harkin.