Today, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Healthy Families Act (HFA), a bill that would create a national right to paid sick leave for workers to care for themselves or for a loved one.
It surprises many people to learn that over thirty-three million workers across the U.S. lack access to a single paid sick day they can use if they or a loved one who they care for is ill. For workers living paycheck to paycheck, even a few days of missed work can mean inability to make rent or pay for groceries or, worse, losing their job altogether. The pressure is especially pronounced for parents and other caregivers—even more so during the pandemic and an unprecedented crisis of care. America’s families deserve a national law to ensure workers can take the sick time they need, when they need it, and without retribution.
A Better Balance Co-President Sherry Leiwant said in a statement: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the unacceptable reality that millions of workers lack paid sick time and without access to paid sick leave, millions of workers—especially low wage workers, who are disproportionately women and people of color—must risk their income, or they must go to work sick. Now, Congress has the opportunity to remedy this longstanding injustice by passing the Healthy Families Act, providing millions of working families with the support they need and protecting the health of the public, now and long after the current health crisis has ended.”
In 2020, Congress took an important step forward by guaranteeing emergency paid sick leave for workers affected by COVID-19 through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Data has shown that that law directly helped us flatten the curve when its protections were in place. Indeed, the public health benefits of paid sick leave are well established—and this protection is beneficial to businesses, as well. Unfortunately, the federal emergency sick leave requirement expired at the end of 2020, leaving millions of workers completely unprotected in the midst of an ongoing public health crisis.
It is time to ensure all workers have the permanent right to paid sick leave they need to care for themselves and their loved ones by passing permanent and comprehensive paid sick leave. We applaud the reintroduction of the Healthy Families Act, and we look forward to swift action from Congress to move forward this urgent bill.