Senator Dodd Expected to Propose Paid Sick Leave Today
As chairman of the subcommittee on Children and Families, Christopher Dodd (D:CT) is expected today to unveil the Senate’s version of a bill that would provide up to seven (7) days of paid sick leave for workers and perhaps worker’s family members who are ill, including individuals who have contracted H1N1 swine flu. Given that the Department of Labor projects that nearly 40% of the US workforce lacks paid sick leave benefits, the legislation proposed by Senator Dodd may gain traction and it arrives at a time when the larger Senate committee (the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) is scheduled to consider ENDA, EFCA and other sweeping employment legislation.
Senator Dodd’s bill is receiving some approval from health care interests as it may encourage sick workers to stay home, thus likely preventing the spread of contagious disease like H1N1. A similar bill was previously introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2460) and is sometimes alluded to as the “Healthy Families Act.”
Government mandated paid sick leave proposals are nothing new. In fact, for the past few years, legislators have proposed different bills that would have a similar effect, as leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act is unpaid. The late Senator Kennedy proposed similar legislation, yet the bills rarely gained momentum. This year is obviously different and employers should keep an eye on Washington as there is simply no doubt that legislators continue to be very active on laws that will affect the workplace.