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Harkin Statement on New York City Law to Allow Workers to Earn Paid Sick Days

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released the following statement in response to a New York City council decision to override a mayoral veto and enact a law that would allow workers to earn up to five paid sick days per year:

“Tens of millions of Americans, especially those in low-wage jobs, lack access to paid sick days.  When illness strikes, these hardworking people face impossible choices between keeping their jobs and their paychecks, or caring for their own health and the health of their families.  Many are forced to go to work sick, putting coworkers and customers at risk.

“I applaud the New York City Council for addressing this crisis. As the Council has correctly recognized, giving  New York City’s workers the option to stay home and recover helps their families, the public health, and the local economy.  My bill, the Healthy Families Act, would allow workers nationwide to earn paid sick days to care for themselves and their families.  Every American worker deserves these critically important protections, and I hope the progress made by New York City and other cities around the country will spur national leaders on both sides of the aisle to support the Healthy Families Act.”

The Healthy Families Act would allow workers to earn up to 56 hours or seven days of paid sick leave, to stay home and get well when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, or to obtain preventative or diagnostic treatment. Employers that already provide paid sick time will not have to change their current policies, as long as their existing time can be used for the same purposes. Employers can also require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.