Monday, March 2, 2015

Proposed Bill Aims to Ensure Workers' Paid Sick Time

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A hot topic shaping up for 2015 is paid sick time and paid family and medical leave for employees. On January 14, the White House released a Fact Sheet outlining the actions President Obama is planning to take to expand access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.

On February 12, the Healthy Families Act was reintroduced in Congress. This new act would apply to employers that have 15 or more employees. Employees would earn at least 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours (or 7 days) in a calendar year. It remains to be seen if Congress will pass this new federal legislation.

Many states and cities have already taken the issue of paid sick leave into their own hands. In 2006, San Francisco became the first city to guarantee access to earned sick days. The city was soon followed by Connecticut and Washington, D.C. Effective July 1, 2015, California and Massachusetts will also guarantee access to paid sick days.

For paid family and medical leave, the federal government wants to encourage more states to create paid leave programs. The federal fiscal year 2016 budget will propose $2.2 billion in funding for up to five states to launch programs for paid family and medical leave. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island currently have paid family leave programs.

The government will also provide new funding for feasibility studies. Recently, $1 million in new funding was earmarked for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Paid Leave Analysis Grant Funding. This funding will provide grants to six to 10 states or municipalities. Last year’s grant program provided $500,000 to Washington, D.C., and three states for feasibility studies.

Read PayState Update Issue No. 4, Vol. 17 to learn more details on paid sick time and paid family and medical leave for employees.