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Policy Library

Strengthen The Workforce With Paid Sick Leave

Every week, over a million Americans go to work each week while feeling sick. Over half of workers in restaurants and hospitals report having gone to work while sick. It all adds up to bad health and low productivity, for sick workers and those they infect. The Statewide Paid Sick Leave Act gives workers the chance to seek medical care and reduces the severity (and costs) of illness.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Arizona, California, Connecticut, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington

Introduced in:

Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania

In The News

“Flu rates would fall 5 percent if paid sick leave were universal. According to one estimate, an additional seven million people contracted the H1N1 flu virus in 2009 because employees came to work while infected. The illnesses led to 1,500 additional deaths.”
“For Americans who are working without paid sick leave, a day lost can translate into lost wages or even place their employment in jeopardy. This contributes to the shaky financial situation in which many families already find themselves.”
“'I was afraid of losing my shifts, my jobs, the respect of my supervisors and my income,' [Phillipa] Adam said. 'I downplayed my illness to my co-workers and clients to put them at ease working with me, so that I would not be sent home.'”

Partners

  • Public health professionals
  • Employers that already offer sick leave
  • Workers

Opposition

  • Business associations that oppose worker benefits
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

Who does this help?
Workers, their families and co-workers, and businesses. Studies have shown making paid sick leave more widely available leads to better health, decreased turnover and higher productivity. Ensuring sick employees can take time off without severe economic consequences helps keep everyone healthy and prevents the spread of disease.
Are businesses able to offer paid sick leave?
Research shows employers support paid sick leave once they start offering it, with nearly all employers reporting no substantial cost increases, and better worker health has been shown to generate cost savings over time. In fact, many leading employers already voluntarily offer paid sick leave.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Statewide Paid Sick Leave Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
An Act providing earned paid sick leave to employees statewide.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) Employees shall accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of one hour of paid leave for every [30] hours worked

(b) Employers shall pay employees for using accrued sick leave for qualified purposes at the same hourly rates and with the same benefits, including medical benefits, that the employees normally earn during hours worked, and in no case less than the minimum wage required by law.

(c) Employees shall begin to accrue paid sick leave upon starting employment for an employer. Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick leave beginning beginning 90 calendar days after starting employment for an employer or on the date this law takes effect, whichever is later.

(d) Unused paid sick leave of [24] hours or less shall be carried over to the following year, but an employer is not required to allow the use of more than [40] hours of earned paid sick leave in one year.

(e) Employers may provide employees with more generous carry over and accrual policies.

(f) Employers shall allow employees to use accrued paid sick leave for the following qualified purposes:
  • (i) To diagnose, care for, or treat the employee’s or the employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • (ii) To obtain preventive medical care for the employee or the employee’s family member;
  • (iii) Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency;
  • (iv) To care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; and
  • (iii) For absences that qualify for leave under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act or related law;
  • (iv) Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

(g) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for requesting or using sick leave as provided under this law.

(h) Employees may request to use accrued earned paid sick leave orally, in writing, by electronic means or by any other means acceptable to the employer. When possible, the request must include the expected duration of the absence.

  • (i) When the use of earned paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employee shall make a good faith effort to provide notice of the need for the earned paid sick leave to the employer in advance of the use of the earned paid sick leave and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of earned paid sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

  • (ii) An employer that requires notice of the need to use earned paid sick leave when the need is not foreseeable shall provide a written policy that contains procedures for the employee to provide notice. An employer that has not provided to an employee a copy of its written policy for providing notice under this paragraph may not deny earned paid sick leave to the employee based on noncompliance with the policy.

  • (iii) For use of accrued earned paid sick leave for more than 3 consecutive days, an employer may require reasonable documentation from the employee in order to verify that the accrued earned paid sick leave has been used for a purpose permitted under this act. Upon the employer's request, the employee must provide the documentation to the employer in a timely manner. The employer may not delay the employee's use of accrued earned paid sick leave on the basis that the employer has not yet received documentation.

(i) The Department of [Labor] shall be responsible for enforcing these provisions, and for promulgating regulations regarding notice and record keeping.

(j) The Department, the Attorney General, or any Employee or former Employee aggrieved by a violation of this Act may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against an Employer violating this Act. Upon prevailing in an action brought pursuant to this section, employees and former employees shall be entitled to such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate to remedy the violation, including reinstatement to employment, back pay and injunctive relief.

(k) Definitions.
  • (i) “Employer” is as defined in State law and does not include the United States government.
  • (ii) “Employee” means an individual working for an employer in the State and does not include independent contractors.
  • (iii) “Family member” means:
  • (1) Regardless of age, a biological, adopted, foster, or step- child, or legal ward, a child of a domestic partner, a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, or an individual to whom the employee stood in loco parentis when the individual was a minor;
  • (2) A biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent or legal guardian of an employee or an employee’s spouse or domestic partner;
  • (3) A person to whom the employee is married or a domestic partner of the employee as registered under the laws of any state;
  • (4) A grandparent, grandchild or sibling (whether of a biological, foster, adoptive or step relationship) of the employee or the employee's spouse or domestic partner; and
  • (5) Any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

(l) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to discourage or prohibit an employer or locality from the adoption or retention of an earned paid sick time policy more generous than the one required herein.