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Three advocacy groups – the National Partnership for Women & Families; the Fairness Initiative on Low-Wage Work; and the National Association of Working Women – have called on Congress to pass a paid sick leave bill that will be introduced next week. 

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)                                    

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) are expected to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act in both houses on Monday, May 18.

The measure, which also was introduced in Congress in 2007 (S. 910, H.R. 1542), requires employers to provide 7 paid sick days per year to workers to care for their own or a family member's medical needs.  The act would apply to employers with 15 or more employees. 

Drafters of the legislation reportedly have made several changes to the bill from the version introduced in 2007, including a provision that would allow employees to accrue paid sick days at one hour for every 30 hours worked, and a domestic violence provision that would allow workers to use paid sick time to recover from incidents related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.  Another revision to the bill would allow workers to use sick days for preventive care or to provide care to a sick family member.

Legislation has been passed in three cities—San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee—and is being introduced in Philadelphia and New York City.  In addition, paid leave bills are pending in several states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

SHRM Position:  In general, SHRM opposes rigid government-imposed mandates on employers.  Instead, SHRM is proposing alternative legislation that would encourage employers to provide paid leave in exchange for not be subject to other federal, state or local leave requirements.  (See related news in the article titled SHRM Launches Comprehensive “Workplace Flexibility” Initiative.)

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The next issue of HR Issues Update will be published on Friday, May 29, 2009.

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