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Kaine & Colleagues Introduce Bill to Guarantee Paid Sick Leave to American Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined colleagues in introducing legislation to guarantee paid sick leave to American workers. The Healthy Families Act of 2023 would allow workers to earn up to seven paid days of sick leave to use when they are ill, need to access preventive care, provide care for a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability. Today, the U.S. does not provide paid time off for short-term illnesses nor paid leave for family and medical needs and emergencies.

“Americans shouldn’t have to forgo pay if they need to stay home when they’re sick or care for a sick family member,” said Kaine. “This bill would finally help guarantee paid sick leave to workers, and I urge my colleagues to pass it.”

Currently, 34 million workers lack any paid sick time at all – including 25 percent of the private sector workforce and 9 percent of the public sector workforce. Workers without paid sick leave are three times more likely to delay or forgo necessary health care for themselves and nearly twice as likely to forgo medical care for their families compared to working adults with paid sick days. However, workers with access to paid sick leave are 28 percent less likely to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries and employers who provide paid sick leave see 25 percent less turnover in their workforce. According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a universal paid sick days policy would reduce preventable visits to the emergency room and result in cost savings of $1.1 billion per year, including $500 million in savings for public health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Specifically, the Healthy Families Act of 2023 would:

  • Allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year.
  • Allow workers in businesses with fewer than 15 employees to earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days each year – unless their employers choose to offer paid sick days.
  • Allow workers who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use their paid sick days to recover or seek assistance related to an incident.
  • Provide a simple method for calculating accrued sick time. Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year, unless the employer selects a higher limit.

The bill was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and in addition to Kaine, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

More than 120 organizations endorsed the Healthy Families Act of 2023, including the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, MomsRising, Family Values at Work, Paid Leave For All, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Nurses United, and A Better Balance. A full list of endorsing organizations is available here.

Full text of the bill is available here. A fact sheet of the bill is available here.