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.
When illness strikes, it can impact any family’s bottom line. For the nearly 40 percent of the private-sector workforce that lacks paid sick time, this strain is felt acutely. These 40 million workers have to choose between recovering and protecting co-workers from infection and getting a paycheck, especially LGBTQ+ people. In fact, only 29 percent of LGBTQ+ workers in an HRC Foundation study said they could take paid medical leave to recover from serious illness. This has major implications for the 40 percent of LGBTQ+ adult workers in food services and restaurants, K-12 and higher education, hospitals, and retail. Millions more workers lack paid sick leave that can be used to care for a sick child or family member. Due to systemic discrimination including health disparities, LGBTQ+ people often find themselves having to choose between the caregiving or recovery time they deserve and the paycheck they need. Access to uniform paid sick leave is essential to closing the gaps created by family illness and helping families stay healthy both physically and financially.
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. The bill provides paid sick time to employees if they become ill, or if they need time 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.
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. Access to paid sick leave also protects healthy workers from infection. Studies show that paid sick leave can reduce the spread of contagious diseases like the flu and a national paid sick days policy would reduce emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year.
The Healthy Families Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on May 17, 2023.
Last Updated: May 24, 2023