One change to healthcare system may be coming, and it's one many small business owners would not like. Senator Ted Kennedy recently introduced a bill –the Healthy Families Act– that would implement a mandatory sick leave law and require employees to receive at least 7 paid sick days per year. In the House, the mandatory sick leave law introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro is called HR 2460.
The Act would require businesses with more than 15 employees to grant no less than one hour of paid sick leave per every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 7 paid sick days per year. Employees would be eligible to use paid sick leave after 60 days.
Employees could use the sick leave for their own illness, for preventive care, to care for a child, parent, spouse or "any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.", or to seek medical or legal assistance relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
The Times notes that similar legislation was attempted repeatedly during the Bush administration. The current bill's preamble notes that more than half private sector employees, and a vast majority of low wage workers have no paid sick leave, requiring them to choose between losing pay (and perhaps losing a job) and caring for themselves or their family.
The latest statistics show that more than half private sector employees and a vast majority of low wage workers have no sick leave. They must choose between losing pay (and perhaps losing a job) and caring for themselves or their family.
Business groups are vowing to block the legislation, arguing that the recession makes this an inopportune time to create a new mandate that they say would raise costs for employers. Supporters, on the other hand, say the legislation is especially timely now, given the swine flu epidemic.
San Francisco and Washington D.C. already require paid sick leave, and Milwaukee as well as many states are currently considering doing so as well. In addition, the legislatures of some other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, are debating similar measures.