The Country Needs Congress to Pass the Healthy Families Act, Women’s Leader Says

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

“The country owes Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) a debt of gratitude for reintroducing the Healthy Families Act today. This legislation would establish a much-needed national paid sick days standard and keep tens of millions of people from having to worry that the flu or a sick child will mean the loss of precious income or a job. It is a reasonable, tested proposal that makes good sense for workers, families, businesses and our economy.

Nineteen jurisdictions across the country now have paid sick days standards in place, and today Philadelphia will become the 20th. A mountain of research shows that these paid sick days laws are working — for businesses as well as families — in every jurisdiction where the impact has been studied. And last fall, voters overwhelmingly approved every paid sick days proposal that appeared on a ballot. President Obama issued a stirring call for this legislation in his State of the Union address, and Sen. Murray and Rep. DeLauro have pledged to work tirelessly to pass it.

The Healthy Families Act is about allowing moms to stay home to care for children with strep, without having their pay docked. It’s about adult sons being able to miss a day of work to take an aging parent for medical tests, without losing their jobs. It’s about child care and nursing home staff being able to stay home when they have the flu, instead of infecting the people they care for. It’s about restaurant workers not being forced to report to work, and handle food, when they are infectious. It’s about being able to see a doctor for an eye infection before it becomes severe. It’s about common sense, public health, and family economic security. It’s about dignity.

Everyone gets sick, and we all need time to recover without risking our pay or our jobs. Right now in this country, at least 43 million workers cannot earn a single paid sick day. The Healthy Families Act would change that by allowing all workers at businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven paid sick days per year to be used to address their own short-term medical needs or the needs of their families. Workers at smaller businesses would earn unpaid, job-protected sick time. It also includes a critical “safe days” provision to allow workers to use paid sick days to address domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.

The Healthy Families Act should be a priority for every lawmaker who cares about the health and economic well-being of working families and our communities. The country needs Congress to pass this law this year. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

The National Partnership convened a broad and diverse coalition that supports the Healthy Families Act. More information can be found at www.PaidSickDays.org.

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 women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. Based in Washington, D.C., the organization drafted and led the fight to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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