Expanding Paid Family Leave Across States Shows Need for Federal Policy

Expanding Paid Family Leave Across States Shows Need for Federal Policy

The Necessity of Paid Sick Leave in the United States

Paid sick leave has been a hot topic in the United States for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to this issue. While many employers have begun to offer paid sick leave to their employees during the pandemic, this is not yet required by law in the United States. This has left many workers struggling to balance their health and financial stability, especially during respiratory virus outbreaks that are prevalent this time of year. In this opinion editorial, we will explore the importance of paid sick leave and the current legislative landscape surrounding this issue.

The Economic Value of Paid Sick Leave

Despite what some lawmakers and business groups argue, studies have shown that providing paid sick leave can actually be beneficial to businesses. A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce, and by allowing sick workers time to rest and recover, businesses can reduce absenteeism and increase their bottom line. In fact, according to an Economic Policy Institute report released in November, the percentage of private sector workers with access to paid sick leave has increased from 63% in 2010 to 78% in recent years, resulting in a more stable and productive workforce.

Furthermore, paid sick leave can also help stabilize workers’ finances. When workers are forced to take unpaid sick days, they often must choose between their financial stability and their well-being, as well as the health of their family and coworkers. This can lead to a cascade of financial difficulties that impact their ability to keep food on the table, pay for housing, and access other essentials.

Legislative Momentum for Paid Sick Leave

Despite the clear need for paid sick leave in the United States, there is currently no federal law mandating that employers provide it. However, this issue has gained significant legislative momentum in recent years, particularly at the state level. Now, 14 states and the District of Columbia require paid sick days, while 13 provide paid family and medical leave, according to KFF. In addition, many states are now considering legislation to mandate paid sick leave, either through ballot initiatives or legislative action.

One such initiative is the federal Healthy Families Act, which would provide a national right to earn time off that is job-protected and provides a way to calculate the accrual of paid sick time. Meanwhile, the FAMILY Act provides paid family and medical leave benefits, an improvement over the current Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which only requires employers of a certain size to offer unpaid family leave. While these bills face opposition from some Republicans, there is growing recognition of the need for a federal policy on paid sick leave, especially as more and more workers recognize the economic value of this benefit.

The Importance of Paid Sick Leave During Respiratory Virus Outbreaks

The need for paid sick leave is particularly pressing during respiratory virus outbreaks, like the one we are currently experiencing. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Jan. 5 update on respiratory virus activity, which includes the flu, RSV, and COVID-19, visits to the emergency department are “elevated in all age groups” and rising. This has led to increased policy attention, from temporary COVID paid leave at the federal level in 2020 to new and expanded state and local protections. With respiratory viruses surging, providing workers with paid sick leave is more important than ever to ensure that sick employees stay home and do not spread illness to their coworkers and the general public.

The Need for Consistency Across State Lines

As more and more states pass laws regarding paid sick leave, businesses are recognizing the need for consistency across state lines. This is especially relevant for businesses that operate in multiple states, as they must navigate a patchwork of regulations and requirements. While this can be challenging for businesses, it is important to recognize that paid sick leave ultimately benefits both employers and employees, and leads to a more productive and stable workforce.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical need for paid sick leave in the United States. While some progress has been made at the state level, there is still a long way to go to ensure that all workers have access to this crucial benefit. By recognizing the economic and public health benefits of paid sick leave, and by advocating for federal legislation like the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act, policymakers can help stabilize the workforce and protect public health during respiratory virus outbreaks and everyday work life alike.

Originally Post From https://localfirstmediagroup.com/as-more-states-add-paid-family-leave-advocates-say-theres-a-need-for-federal-policy/

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