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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 11
Sen. Patty Murray reintroduces Healthy Families Act

Creates paid sick days for workers
Section One
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Sen. Patty Murray reintroduces Healthy Families Act

Creates paid sick days for workers

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington's US Sen. Patty Murray has reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would allow workers to accumulate paid sick days.

Although Seattle passed a paid sick days ordinance in 2012, and Washington state followed suit with I-1433 last year, some 41 million workers across the country still lack paid sick leave and therefore are forced to take time off or risk their jobs when they or family members are ill.

Even when workers have personal sick days, those might not cover the times when a child is ill and needs to stay home from school. That forces many parents to choose between caring for their family or risking their livelihood.

'It is unacceptable that 41 million people across the country have to take time off - or risk losing their job - if they catch the flu, if their child is sick, or if they have to take care of a sick parent,' Murray said in a statement.

'No one should have to choose between their health and their economic security, but our outdated policies are forcing too many workers to make that kind of choice. I'm proud Washington state continues to be a leader on this issue - and it's time our national policy catches up to ensure all hardworking families are able to care for themselves and loved ones when they need it the most.'

The Healthy Families Act would allow workers at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave each year. Workers would be allowed to stay home when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, seek preventive medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Businesses that already provide paid sick leave would not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards of the Healthy Families Act.

Studies show that sick paid leave can reduce the spread of contagious diseases like the flu and that a national paid sick days policy would reduce emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year.

Twenty-nine other senators are co-sponsoring the bill, including Washington's other senator, Maria Cantwell, and both of the Senate's independents - Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. Not a single Republican senator has signed on.

Murray is ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which will have jurisdiction over the bill.

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