If Congress Cares About Families, They Must Pass the Healthy Families Act

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“Everyone gets sick, but for the more than 34 million private sector workers who cannot earn a single paid sick day, missing even a few days of work can jeopardize their ability to afford basic necessities like groceries or rent. No one should have to make the impossible choice between taking time to care for a sick child or to recover from the flu and losing a paycheck or even their job. That is why we are excited to see that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) today introduced the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would establish a national paid sick days standard.

The momentum for paid sick days laws continues across the country, as 10 states, the District of Columbia and 21 other jurisdictions have or will soon have paid sick days laws in place. The evidence from existing laws is clear: Paid sick days are good for workers, families and public health. Despite opposition from special interests, the laws are working well, without adverse business or economic effects.

But a collection of state and local laws is not enough. While paid sick days access has steadily increased in recent years, a federal standard is needed to end the shameful disparities in access based on income and job type. While 92 percent of the highest-wage workers have paid sick days, that number drops to less than 1 in 3 (31 percent) for the lowest-wage workers. Only 52 percent of service workers — who frequently interact with the public — have access to paid sick days, creating clear public health risks.

Members of Congress who claim to be champions for working families should support and pass the Healthy Families Act, along with legislation that would guarantee paid family and medical leave, ensure fair pay practices, and protect workers from harassment and discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination.”

About the National Partnership

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

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