Bennet Cosponsors Healthy Families Act

Would Allow Workers to Earn Paid Sick Days

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has signed on as a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act that would allow workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

"Colorado workers, who often have no other options, shouldn't have to choose between caring for a sick child and losing a day's pay - or even their job," Bennet said. "This bill gives middle-class families more economic security by allowing them to care for themselves and their family members when they're sick or in a medical emergency. It will provide workers time to get healthy so they can be more productive and effective when they return to work. It will also prevent their coworkers from contracting and spreading illnesses in the workplace - keeping health care costs down and productivity up."

Forty-three million Americans and over 800,000 Coloradans, which accounts for 42.6 percent of Colorado's private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick days. Often, when workers have personal sick days, they might not cover times when a child is ill and needs to stay home from school.
The Healthy Families Act would allow workers in businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours or seven days of job-protected paid sick leave each year. Workers would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Employers that already provide paid sick time will not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards outlined in the Healthy Families Act. Employers can also require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.

Research shows that paid sick days can reduce the spread of contagious illnesses like the flu, reduce occupational injuries, result in more preventive cancer screenings and other preventive care, and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. The American Journal of Public Health found that the lack of paid sick days contributed to an additional 5,000,000 cases of influenza-like illness during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, if all workers had access to paid sick days, emergency room visits would decline by 1.3 million visits a year, saving $1.1 billion annually. More than half of those savings would be to public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

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