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Kennedy and Dodd Champion Paid Sick Days Legislation for America's Working Families

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Christopher Dodd yesterday evening introduced the Healthy Families Act, which will allow American workers to earn paid sick days to care for themselves and their families without risking their jobs.

Now more than ever, workers are struggling to balance the demands of their jobs with the needs of their families. Yet almost half of today's private sector workforce doesn't have a single paid sick day—including 79% of low-wage workers. This needed legislation will enable workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours (7 days) in a year. Workers will be able to use this time to care for themselves and their families, receive preventive or diagnostic treatment, or seek help if they are victims of domestic violence.

Especially in this time of heightened awareness about the spread of flu and other diseases, allowing workers to stay home when they are sick is a critical public health issue. Business will also benefit, increasing their productivity and reducing the $180 billion lost annually to "presenteeism," (when employees come to work sick and infect others) and nearly $2 billion lost due to employee turnover. Additionally, the bill exempts employers with less than 15 employees, and allows employers to require documentation from workers who request leave longer than three days.

Senator Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said, "Every worker has had to miss days of work because of illness. Every child gets sick and needs a parent at home to take care of them. And all hardworking Americans deserve the chance to take care of their families without putting their jobs or their health on the line. I urge all of my colleagues to join in supporting the Healthy Families Act."

Senator Dodd said, "No American should be forced to sacrifice their health simply because they can't afford to miss a day of work," said Dodd. "I fought long and hard to give American workers the ability to take extended unpaid leave to care for themselves or a loved one. My home state of Connecticut is already working to guarantee paid sick days, but this is a right that should be afforded to all Americans. I'm prepared to fight again to give them the freedom to take a day off if they need to tend to a sick family member or their own health without losing a day's pay."


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