While federal progress has stalled since the FMLA, states and cities have come up with innovative policies for filling in the gaps that persist. And we won’t stop fighting until all workers have a real right to the leave they need when they need it the most.
Today, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro reintroduced the Healthy Families Act (HFA), a federal bill that would create a legal right to sick time at the federal level. Forty-one million private sector workers—36 percent of the U.S. workforce—do not have a single paid sick day. 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 caretakers. America’s working 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 (ABB) is proud to be a part of a national coalition that worked on the HFA’s bill language, and we are now mobilizing with our partners to build support for this critical legislation. Our organization’s work on the HFA is informed by our work as the legal team helping campaigns around the country to enact paid sick time at the state and local level. The number of wins is constantly growing. Thanks to our and our partners’ efforts, there are now paid sick time laws in 7 states and 32 localities.
In addition, through ABB’s legal hotline, we work to enforce the New York City Earned Sick Time Act, which covers 3.4 million people who work in the five boroughs of New York City. Our most heartbreaking calls are from people, many of whom live in New York City, who work just outside the city—in Long Island, Westchester, or Hoboken—and are not covered. These workers and tens of millions like them across the country need paid sick time.
If enacted, the HFA would allow workers to earn one hour of sick time for every thirty hours they work and take up to 56 hours of sick time per year. For covered workers whose employers have at least 15 employees, this time must be paid; employers with fewer employees must provide unpaid sick time. Workers can use this time when they or their family members are ill, injured, or need medical treatment, including mental health treatment and preventive care (and “family” is broadly defined to include diverse family arrangements). All workers will be protected against retaliation for using their time. Employers will be able to offer policies that are more generous than the HFA’s minimums, but not less. You can learn more about the HFA in our fact sheet.
While we are thrilled to see more and more states and localities working to pass paid sick time laws, the right to paid sick leave should not depend on where you live. Each and every day, countless Americans face the impossible choice between caring for their own health or that of their families and their livelihood. Contact your member of Congress today to help pass the HFA and give working families across the country the support they need.