Healthy Families Act
H.R. 1286; S. 631
Many hardworking Americans are struggling to meet their own health care needs and the needs of their family members. The absence of paid sick time has forced workers to make impossible choices between needed income and jobs on the one hand and caring for their own and their family's health on the other. Nearly 40 percent of the private-sector workforce (about 40 million workers) lacks paid sick time, and millions more employees lack sick time that can be used to care for a sick child or ill family member, including a same-sex partner or spouse. In addition, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and rape can be particularly affected by a lack of paid sick time, because they are often forced to miss work as a result of the violence they experience.
What is the Healthy Families Act?
The Healthy Families Act would provide employees the opportunity to earn a minimum of seven paid sick days (56 hours) per year to care for themselves or their families. This leave will relieve workers from having to make the untenable decision between caring for themselves or a loved one and losing necessary income, or even losing their job altogether. Under the bill, paid sick time could be used by employees to care for themselves, or to care for a child, a parent, a spouse or “any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” While the legislation does not explicitly name same-sex partners or spouses, this inclusive language makes leave available for the American family in all of its diverse forms, including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Improved Workplace Productivity
The bill would benefit not only employees, but also employers that suffer revenue losses due to lost productivity. In 2003, the American Productivity Audit found that presenteeism—the practice of employees coming to work despite illness—costs $180 billion annually in lost productivity. Studies published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Management Studies, and the Harvard Business Review show that presenteeism is a larger productivity drain than either absenteeism or short-term disability.
What is the Current Status of the Bill?
The Healthy Families Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress on March 20, 2013, in the House of Representatives by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and in the Senate by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
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Last Updated: March 24, 2014