Statement from Ann O'Leary: It’s Time for the Healthy Families Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2015
It’s Time for the Healthy Families Act
Statement by Ann O’Leary, Senior Vice President and Director of the Children & Families Program, Next Generation
We applaud the introduction of the Healthy Families Act in Congress, and our Congressional leaders in California and other states who have sponsored this bill. Across the country, there has been tremendous momentum in favor of this common sense issue, with paid sick days laws being passed in 17 cities and in three states. In 2014, California became the largest state to require all employers to offer a minimum of three paid sick days a year. This law will benefit over 6.5 million California workers who previously had no paid sick days, and now will be able to take time to recover from their own illness, or care for family members who fall ill. Next Generation and members of the California Work & Family Coalition worked together to help pass this law.
San Francisco was the first place in the nation to pass a paid sick days law, which has served as a model around the country. Research of that law finds that most employers support it; more than half of San Francisco workers have benefited from it; parents are much more likely to keep kids home from school if they are sick; and, the requirement of employer mandated paid sick days has not negatively impacted the city’s economy. More recently, the California Work & Family Coalition members supported Oakland’s paid sick leave ballot measure, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of voters. Other communities across the country have also passed their own local paid sick days legislation, bringing this basic labor standard to thousands more workers.
But in many places across the country, workers still lack access to a single paid sick day. This cannot continue.
Paid sick leave is an important issue for working parents and single mothers. Without it, workers are forced to make difficult choices between their income and their own health, or the health of sick family members. For a low-income family without paid sick days, just 3.5 days without wages is the equivalent to losing a month’s groceries.
Our recent issue brief featured important research showing that paid sick leave improves productivity and protects vulnerable employees in low-income jobs. Paid sick leave policies also improve public health by preventing the spread of disease: recent epidemics of measles and other contagious illnesses have highlighted that when workers cannot take paid sick days to recover at home, they threaten the health of co-workers and the general public with whom they come into contact.
If passed, the Healthy Families Act will allow workers at businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. Those in businesses with fewer than 15 employees will have access to up to seven unpaid, job-protected sick days. These are critical changes that will allow workers to recover from their own illness, as well as care for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or other relative. Finally, the law will also provide funding for outreach and education of workers’ rights under the law.
The time is now for national paid sick days legislation. We urge Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act this year.
About California Work & Family Coalition
The California Work & Family Coalition, a project of Next Generation, is an alliance of community organizations, unions and non-profits protecting every California worker’s right to put their family first. We work together to promote work family policies that help parents, caregivers, children and families thrive.
About Next Generation
Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future.