Padilla Cosponsors Healthy Families Act to Establish National Paid Sick Days Policy

Healthy Families Act would ensure workers can earn paid sick days and help keep families, communities and our economy healthy

1 in 4 private sector workers—or 32 million people—still lack paid sick days

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in reintroducing the Healthy Families Act. This legislation provides more American workers the ability to earn paid sick days, keeping our communities and our economy healthier.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the critical need for paid sick days for our nation’s workers and families,” said Senator Padilla. “No one should ever have to choose between their health and their job. I’m proud to join Senator Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro on this important legislation to protect our country’s workers, improve public health and boost our economy.” 

Today, one in four workers still do not have access to paid sick days. For these 32 million private sector workers—who are disproportionately women and people of color—getting sick or having to care for a sick loved one means having to choose between losing a paycheck or going into work sick and risking the health of their colleagues and their community. This inequity isn’t just bad for workers—it’s bad for our public health and our economy too, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Recent studies show that requiring employers to provide paid sick days reduces the spread of flu-like illnesses and reduces emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year. Another study showed that the emergency paid leave provision passed in 2020 helped slow the spread of COVID-19 by roughly 15,000 cases per day

The Healthy Families Act would allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave each year. This would allow workers to stay home when they are sick or to care for a sick family member—as well as to seek preventive medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Businesses that already provide paid sick leave would not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards of the Healthy Families Act. 

“This pandemic has made clear what Congresswoman DeLauro and I have been saying for years—paid sick days are critical for the health and economic security of workers, their families, and our country,” said Senator Murray. “As we build back from this pandemic, we cannot settle for an economy that forces workers to choose between their health and their paycheck or pushes women out of the workforce because they have to stay home with a sick child. We must demand better. I’m proud to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act—and I’m looking forward getting this policy across the finish line.”     

“Long before the spread of COVID-19, workers have been forced to choose between earning a paycheck, and in some cases keeping their job, and caring for themselves or a loved one,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “This choice disproportionately falls on women, many of whom have left the workforce during this pandemic with no hope of returning. I am proud to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act with Senator Murray. I hope this is the last Congress we must introduce this legislation and the last year workers are forced to make this choice. We cannot return to normal. We must use the lessons we have learned from this pandemic to build safer workplaces, healthier communities, and a more resilient economy.”

A list of the 52 national and 15 state organizations that have endorsed the Healthy Families Act is available here.

Bill text is available here.

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