Padilla Cosponsors Legislation to Expand Access to Paid Sick, Medical, and Family Leave for Workers￼
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) cosponsored the introduction of two bills that expand access to paid leave in the United States. The Healthy Families Act, which is led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate, would ensure that workers can earn up to seven job-protected sick days each year to recover from their own illnesses, access preventative care, or provide care to a sick family member. The FAMILY Act, which is led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the Senate, would create a new Social Security Administration program to guarantee all workers up to 12 weeks of paid parental, medical, and caregiving leave.
“Nobody should have to forgo their pay or risk losing their job because they don’t have access to paid leave,” said Senator Padilla. “That is why I’m cosponsoring these bills to expand federal leave policies across the country.”
Healthy Families Act of 2023
The Healthy Families Act of 2023 would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability. The legislation would also:
- Allow workers in businesses with fewer than 15 employees would earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days each year to be used for the same reasons – unless their employers choose to offer paid sick days;
- Allow workers who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use their paid sick days to recover or seek assistance related to an incident; and
- Provide a simple method for calculating accrued sick time. Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year, unless the employer selects a higher limit.
In addition to Padilla and Sanders the legislation cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act
The FAMILY Act would ensure that every worker, no matter the size of their employer or if they are self-employed or part-time, has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, every time it’s needed. Paid medical and family leave is especially helpful for new parents and older Americans, who are more likely to have health issues or caregiving obligations for older relatives. Notable improvements in this year’s introduction of the bill include expanding benefit eligibility to truly cover all workers, bringing the definition of “family” into the 21st century, a progressive wage replacement rate for benefits, no unpaid waiting period to receive benefits, and extending leave benefits to cover non-medical needs in relation to sexual or domestic violence.
This year’s introduction of the FAMILY Act includes notable changes that strengthen paid leave protections for all workers. Most notably, the new bill would:
- Bring the definition of “family” into the 21st century: The new definition of “family” ensures a broader range of caregiving relationships are covered, including a spouse, registered domestic partner/civil union partner, spouse or domestic partner’s parent (parent-in-law), children of any age, child’s spouse (child-in-law), parent, parent’s spouse (step-parent), sibling, sibling’s spouse (sibling-in-law), grandparent, grandparent’s spouse (step-grandparent), grandchild, grandchild’s spouse (grandchild-in-law), or any other individual who is related by blood or affinity and whose association with the individual involved is equivalent of a family relationship.
- Expand eligibility to cover all workers who have worked in the past two years: The new bill expands benefit eligibility to protect all workers regardless of whether or not they are subject to Social Security taxes. Previously, only workers subject to Social Security taxes would have been eligible for paid leave benefits—excluding certain state and local government employees who are exempted from those taxes. The bill now extends eligibility to any worker who has earned at least $2,000 in income in the prior two years.
- Improve program financing: Previously, the bill applied a 0.4% payroll tax, shared evenly between employers and employees, to income subject to the Social Security taxable wage base, which is currently capped at $160,200. To eliminate the cap on taxable wages and expand eligibility, the new bill instead applies the same payroll tax to the Medicare HI taxable wage base.
- Include a progressive wage replacement rate for benefits: The progressive wage replacement rate still has a $4,000 cap per month and would help working-class and low-wage workers access resources to match their level of need. The progressive wage replacement provides:
- 85% on the first $1,257 of monthly wages
- 69% of monthly wages from $1,258-$3,500
- 50% of monthly wages from $3,501-$6,200
- Previously, the rate was approximately 67% of monthly wages, up to $4,000 per month.
- Provide safe leave for sexual and domestic violence: The new bill would ensure workers have the ability to take safe leave to address non-medical needs in relation to sexual or domestic violence. These benefits extend assisting family in these activities, including people like parents, siblings, or adult children of any age.
- Remove the unpaid waiting period for benefits: Benefits were not previously available for the first 5 caregiving days.
- Acknowledge legacy states: States with paid leave laws in place can qualify for special status if they demonstrate that their program is at least as generous as the federal program. If a state qualifies for special status, workers will receive benefits through their state program. If a state qualifies for special status and enters into a data-sharing agreement with the federal government, the state program will be reimbursed for the cost of providing benefits guaranteed by federal law.
In addition to Padilla and Gillibrand, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Fetterman (D-Penn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
A one-pager on the FAMILY Act is available here.
Full text of the bill is available here.