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Healthy Families Act reintroduced to Congress!

Slipping under the new radar, the Healthy Family Act was reintroduced to Congress on May 15th. This act, originally introduced in 2005 by Ted Kennedy, is a step in the right direction for enabling workers to take time off when needed to deal with illnesses, beyond the scope of the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act. The act would apply to all businesses with 15 or more employees, and require more time allowed for sick days. For every 30 hours an employee would work, they would be entitled to one hour of sick time, totaling 7 days of sick time on a year worked.

The bill has drawn the ire of pro-business groups, who state that it is an inappropriate time to be introducing legislation that will raise the costs of doing business. They contend that it is already hard enough for small business to remain afloat during these times, and this bill will only make it harder.

But the bills preamble states the difficulty faced by workers to take time off to care for themselves and their family, stating that nearly 59 percent of all private sector employees are not given any time off for sick days. This leads many individuals to come to work sick, often aggravating conditions and making it worse for themselves and those around them. Supporters of the bill state this is necessary, and that the United States lags behind other nations. All other industrialized nations in the world guarantee time off for illness, while only certain cities like San Francisco protect employees sick days.

The passage of this bill during the Obama administration is considerably more likely than under the Bush administration, who had paid no attention to the bill and consistently had sided with business interests.

Would you be more likely to take sick days if you had time? What effects do you think this would have on businesses?

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