By Lydia Wheeler - 02/12/15 01:40 PM EST
Federal sick leave legislation reintroduced in the House and Senate on Thursday will require businesses with 15 or more employees to give their workers the ability to earn seven days of paid sick leave a year.
Businesses with fewer than 15 employees would be required to give their employees seven unpaid days.
Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate backs equal pay for female soccer players Feds can learn lessons from states about using data to inform policy Lawmakers blast poultry, meat industries over worker injuries MORE (D-Wash.) said she’s agreed to take over for former Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes MORE (D-Iowa), a previous champion of the Healthy Families Act who retired at the end of his term last year.
“Unfortunately for 43 million workers in our country, catching the flu or having to help a sick family member means losing a day of pay or even sometimes losing your job,” she said. “No one should ever have to chose between their health or a loved one’s health and their economic security.”
Murray went on to call the country’s Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows for unpaid time off for maternity leave or an illness, outdated.
“It is a public health risk,” she said. “Nobody wants a restaurant worker coming in with a cold, and parents of child children should have the flexibility to stay home for the day.”
She said getting the Healthy Families Act passed won’t be easy but she’s heard “no” from the Republican side of the aisle before.
“If they want to explain why they put the profits of corporations ahead of the health and economic security of working families, go right ahead, she said.
Proponents are referring to the bill as smart policy and smart politics.
“Soon, Philadelphia will become the 17th city to pass paid sick days, part of the swelling national tide to provide working families with much-needed relief,” Ellen Bravo, the executive director of Family Values @ Work, said in a statement. “We will continue fighting to ensure all working families across the country can both provide and care for their families.”