Yesterday, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) re-introduced the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1286 / S. 631).
The Healthy Families Act would allow employees to earn a minimum of seven paid sick days (56 hours) per year to care for themselves or a family member, including a same-sex partner. About 40 million workers in the United States (40 percent of the private-sector workforce) lack paid sick time to address their own health needs, or time that can be used for sick- or well-child visits or to provide care for an ill or aging family member.
Even when employers do make leave available, they often have policies which overlook families headed by same-sex couples.
The definition of ‘family’ in the Healthy Families Act is inclusive and extends to an individual "whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship."
By having this language, this Act would relieve workers in same-sex relationships of the impossible choice between caring for themselves or a sick family member and losing essential income, or even facing losing their job entirely. Forcing employees to make a decision between a paycheck and their own or their family’s health needs has a negative impact on national health and costs employers $180 billion annually in lost productivity. It is vital that working Americans and their families are provided with the opportunity to have paid sick days to allow them time for regular, preventive medical check-ups or to care for an ailing loved one without jeopardizing their job.
The passage of this important legislation would enable millions of Americans in committed, long-term relationships to care for their same-sex partner or family member.
Both Senator Harkin and Representative DeLauro are long-time champions for equality and HRC applauds their work to ensure that all American families have access to sick leave, including those headed by same-sex couples. HRC will be continuing our work with coalition partners to build support for and advance the Healthy Families Act during this session of Congress.