National Partnership for Women & Families

‘Historic Steps Forward in the Fight for Paid Sick Days and Fair Pay,’ Ness Says, Lauding Obama Administration for Two Actions

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — September 29, 2016 —

“The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today finalized a rule that will ensure 1.15 million people who work on federal contracts can earn paid sick time, including nearly 600,000 workers who currently cannot earn a single paid sick day. This historic advance, which implements President Obama’s executive order, means these workers will no longer have to choose between their jobs and taking time to recover from common illnesses, seeking preventive care, or caring for sick children or relatives. This is terrific news for these workers, their families and our country.

This measure is truly a testament to the Obama administration’s deep commitment to increasing access to paid sick days and other family friendly workplace supports, as well as to the nearly 100 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals who submitted comments on DOL’s proposal. Today’s victory adds to the remarkable momentum around common sense paid sick days policies, which has led to 36 jurisdictions guaranteeing workers this basic protection today.

We are also extremely pleased that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in cooperation with DOL, finalized a tool to help root out unlawful pay discrimination in our nation’s workplaces by collecting compensation data by gender, race and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. This increased transparency will be tremendously helpful for the federal government and employers as they seek to better detect discriminatory pay practices while strengthening enforcement of equal pay laws.

These actions are historic steps forward in the fight for paid sick days and fair pay. They will bring significant progress, and credit goes to the Obama administration. Its unprecedented leadership has helped bring broad-based change as more and more businesses and jurisdictions of all sizes have established policies that guarantee paid sick days, provide paid family and medical leave and promote fair pay. Each advance adds to the strong and growing body of evidence that shows these policies are good for workers, families, businesses and our economy.

But we still have a long way to go. In the past few months, new government data revealed that more than 41 million workers – 36 percent of the private sector workforce – still cannot earn paid sick days. More than 99 million private sector workers – 87 percent of the private sector workforce – don’t have access to employer-provided paid family leave. Women who hold full-time, year-round jobs are still typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to men who do – a loss of $10,470 annually. And the losses are appallingly worse for women of color.

It is past time for members of Congress to recognize that a patchwork of policies that benefit one group of workers based on employer or geography will never be enough to meet the needs of all working people and families in this country. With today’s actions and others, the Obama administration has helped pave the way for more meaningful progress. It is time for Congress to pass laws that guarantee paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, fair pay and other basic workplace supports to all workers in this country.”

The National Partnership convenes a broad and diverse coalition that supports the Healthy Families Act and helps lead efforts to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. More information can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidSickDays and NationalPartnership.org/FairPay.

Contact

Sadie Kliner (202) 986-2600 skliner@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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