President Obama called for paid sick leave in his weekly address Saturday and said ensuring workers can take time off is one way to continue economic progress. 

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“We can prey on people’s worries for political gain. Or we can actually do something to help working families feel more secure in today’s economy,” Obama said. “Count me in the latter camp.”

Obama said that Americans shouldn’t have to make a choice between going to work sick and risking pay, and he called on the Republican-led Congress to pass a law guaranteeing seven paid sick leave days a year. But he applauded states passing their own sick leave laws. 

Obama also touted a new federal rule that, starting Jan. 1, will require federal contractors to give employees working on federal contracts up to seven days paid sick leave. 

“Paid sick leave isn’t a side issue, or a women’s issue, or something that’s just nice to have. It’s a must-have,” Obama said. 

“By the way, so are economic priorities like child care, paid family leave, equal pay, and a higher minimum wage. We need a Congress that will act on all these issues, too, because they’d make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Americans who are working hard every day.”