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President Obama Calls for Paid Sick Days for All

January 21, 2015

President Obama (D) announced new policy initiatives on January 15 to extend paid sick days to more public and private sector workers, policies that would greatly benefit the many direct-care workers who do not have paid sick days.

According to a White House fact sheet, 43 million private sector workers are without paid sick leave. Further, in 60 percent of households with children, both parents work. That number is up from 40 percent in 1965. Of women with children under five, 60 percent are now in the workforce — up from 30 percent in the 1970s.

“The last thing we should do is add guilt, fear, and financial hardship on working parents as they try to do what’s right — while keeping their job,” Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett said in a January 14 blog post.

The President will take the following actions to improve paid sick day standards:

  • Urge Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers at least 56 hours of paid sick leave annually accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • Sign an executive order to guarantee federal workers six weeks of paid administrative leave for birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child and propose Congress provide the same for its employees.
  • Ask Congress to approve $2.2 billion to help states explore implementing family and medical leave policies.
  • Direct the Department of Labor to use $1 million in existing funds to support paid sick day feasibility studies in states and municipalities.

Paid Sick Leave Around the U.S.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and numerous cities have recently passed laws to extend paid sick day benefits.

Pending legislation in Oregon will grant sick days to all workers. Lawmakers in California recently introduced legislation to extend sick days to home care workers, who were initially excluded.

— by Stephen Campbell, PHI Policy Research Assistant

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