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senate Bill S. 636

Paid Sick Leave: Should Federal, State, and Private Sector Employers Have To Offer It?

Argument in favor

No one can predict when they're going to get sick, and workers shouldn’t have to choose between their job and their own health or their families’ health in times of sickness.

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05/20/2017
One of the biggest arguments in favor of paid sick leave is that sick employees should not come to work. When someone who is ill stays at home, the chances of that illness being shared at work diminishes. Plus, workers recover faster from illness when they have the time to rest or seek medical attention. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that nearly two-thirds of servers and cooks say they have served or cooked while ill. This increases the likelihood that illnesses will be spread to customers, causing potential public health issues. Many workers choose to come to work ill because they fear they will lose pay or their job if they stay home to recover. Some also call in sick to stay with a sick child who cannot stay home alone. While some employees do come to work when they are ill, it can lead to what is known as “presenteeism,” which means employees are not working up to their potential. According to the United States Department of Labor, workers without paid sick time are more likely than their counterparts with paid sick time to be injured on the job, especially those employed in health care support occupations, construction and production. Paid sick leave is thought to build loyalty and reduce turnover, which is particularly important in the lower wage industries where turnover is highest. Replacing workers can be expensive. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs about 38 percent of an employee’s annual earnings to replace them, including recruitment, training, the separation process and losses in productivity. There also are concerns about how the lack of paid leave affects health care costs. Many emergency centers report that workers without paid sick leave are more than twice as likely to seek emergency room care because they can’t take time off during normal work hours. So am I in favor of making paid sick leave mandatory? Hell yes I am.
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Stat1stic's Opinion
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05/20/2017
Should anyone living in the wealthiest country in the world have to fret how they will pay their rent, or their electric, or do enough food shopping for the month for their family because they lost one or two days work from illness? Is it really too much to ask that employers offer full-time, year-round employees 5 days paid sick time over the course of a year? How about employee morale and worth? Employees are not well-oiled machines but we are people and we are prone to illness and injury. We are people who work to survive and to take care of our families. Our efforts drive the profit margins that owners and CEO's get the privilege of absorbing; why shouldn't we at least be seen and respected as the people that we are; dedicated yet also vulnerable.
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Zane's Opinion
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05/20/2017
I think payed sick leave provides a healthier and more productive work environment.
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Argument opposed

Paid sick leave and similar mandates place an unfair burden on businesses, forcing them to sacrifice productivity and sales, which could lead to job losses and business closures.

Loraki's Opinion
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05/20/2017
No federal mandate for states and the private sector! Federal overreach!
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operaman's Opinion
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05/20/2017
Since when has the Government decided to force the private sector to provide pay for whatever they believe is fair or goodly. As a retired manager, I personally had employees on some form(s) of benefit for more than six months (off&on)per year. These benefits count towards time in service for retirement and made my job difficult to meet customer service expectations.
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Sean's Opinion
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05/20/2017
This should be up to the employer- along with minimum wage, benefits, etc. it's CRAZY to push these requirements on small businesses. Let the market work itself out- either offer more and attract better and loyal people, or don't and deal with low moral and turnover. Let the business figure out which route it wants to take.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    IntroducedMarch 15th, 2017

What is Senate Bill S. 636?

This bill would require that all full-time employees of federal, state, and private-sector employers receive at least seven days of paid sick leave. "Sick leave" would apply for employees who fall ill, need to attend doctors appointments, or miss work to care for a sick family member (children, parents, spouses/domestic partners).
Businesses with 15 or more employees would be required to give workers the opportunity to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave a year. People employed at businesses with less than 15 employees would under federal law be offered up to seven job-protected sick days.

The bill would also include a “safe days” provision — allowing workers to take paid sick leave to handle issues of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Funding through this bill would be allocated for outreach and education about the rights guaranteed in the bill.

For every 30 hours of work, employees could earn 1 hour of earned paid sick time. However, employers can put a cap on the number of hours an employee can earn on 56 hours. Unless an employer chooses to up that ceiling.

Under this legislation,  part-time workers would also get paid sick leave — but it would be less, proportional to how many hours they work. 

the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to create a report every year on the use of paid sick leave. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would also be directed to run a study on the use of paid sick leave within 18 months of this bill's passing. 

Impact

Workers; families; parents with new children; caretakers; employers; and businesses.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 636

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, an estimate of a previous version of the bill found that implementing this act would cost the federal government about $3 to $4 million per year.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced this bill to allow all workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they're sick, or to care for a loved one among other circumstances:
"It is unacceptable that 41 million people across the country have to take time off -- or risk losting their job -- if they catch the flu, if their child is sick, or if they have to take care of a sick parent. 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 very 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."
Those who oppose government-mandated paid sick leave cite the economic burden it imposes on small businesses that may not be able to afford it. They note that employers know better than anyone else how to balance their budgets while offering benefits to their workers, and that paid sick leave should be left to individual businesses. As noted in a Wikipedia article on paid sick leave
"A 2013 study by the Employment Policies Institute found that many businesses responded to a paid sick leave mandate in Connecticut by reducing paid leave, scaling back employee benefits, cutting back on hours, reducing wages, or raising prices. About 24% of employers that responded to the survey said they'd hire fewer employees as a consequence of the law and 10% admitted that the law had caused them to limit or restrict their expansion within the state."

This legislation has the support of 34 cosponsors in the Senate, all of whom are either Democrats or Independents who caucus as Democrats.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user AZAdam)

AKA

Healthy Families Act

Official Title

A bill to allow Americans to earn paid sick time so that they can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families.

    One of the biggest arguments in favor of paid sick leave is that sick employees should not come to work. When someone who is ill stays at home, the chances of that illness being shared at work diminishes. Plus, workers recover faster from illness when they have the time to rest or seek medical attention. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that nearly two-thirds of servers and cooks say they have served or cooked while ill. This increases the likelihood that illnesses will be spread to customers, causing potential public health issues. Many workers choose to come to work ill because they fear they will lose pay or their job if they stay home to recover. Some also call in sick to stay with a sick child who cannot stay home alone. While some employees do come to work when they are ill, it can lead to what is known as “presenteeism,” which means employees are not working up to their potential. According to the United States Department of Labor, workers without paid sick time are more likely than their counterparts with paid sick time to be injured on the job, especially those employed in health care support occupations, construction and production. Paid sick leave is thought to build loyalty and reduce turnover, which is particularly important in the lower wage industries where turnover is highest. Replacing workers can be expensive. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs about 38 percent of an employee’s annual earnings to replace them, including recruitment, training, the separation process and losses in productivity. There also are concerns about how the lack of paid leave affects health care costs. Many emergency centers report that workers without paid sick leave are more than twice as likely to seek emergency room care because they can’t take time off during normal work hours. So am I in favor of making paid sick leave mandatory? Hell yes I am.
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    No federal mandate for states and the private sector! Federal overreach!
    Like (54)
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    Should anyone living in the wealthiest country in the world have to fret how they will pay their rent, or their electric, or do enough food shopping for the month for their family because they lost one or two days work from illness? Is it really too much to ask that employers offer full-time, year-round employees 5 days paid sick time over the course of a year? How about employee morale and worth? Employees are not well-oiled machines but we are people and we are prone to illness and injury. We are people who work to survive and to take care of our families. Our efforts drive the profit margins that owners and CEO's get the privilege of absorbing; why shouldn't we at least be seen and respected as the people that we are; dedicated yet also vulnerable.
    Like (139)
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    I think payed sick leave provides a healthier and more productive work environment.
    Like (118)
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    Everyone gets sick but not everyone can afford to get sick. As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have a moral imperative to care for our people. There is no justification for people dying of pneumonia because they couldn't afford to lose their job by taking sick time.
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    Universal healthcare and yes, this.
    Like (62)
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    Being sick is not something that people choose.
    Like (57)
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    Since when has the Government decided to force the private sector to provide pay for whatever they believe is fair or goodly. As a retired manager, I personally had employees on some form(s) of benefit for more than six months (off&on)per year. These benefits count towards time in service for retirement and made my job difficult to meet customer service expectations.
    Like (45)
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    People should not be punished financially for getting sick. Employers should provide a reasonable number of personal and family sick days per year.
    Like (45)
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    This should be up to the employer- along with minimum wage, benefits, etc. it's CRAZY to push these requirements on small businesses. Let the market work itself out- either offer more and attract better and loyal people, or don't and deal with low moral and turnover. Let the business figure out which route it wants to take.
    Like (43)
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    People already lose enough money to health care, and to have people out there who lose money or even their jobs for getting sick, something no one has control over, is disgraceful! Having the flexibility to stay home and get better or take care of a sick child without worrying about making ends meet helps people recover faster, prevents the spread of illness, and prevents poverty.
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    In America we work very hard most employers will only do what is mandated.
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    Yes!!! A thousand times, yes!!
    Like (26)
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    Why does the left hate the poor? What do you have against the unskilled and unemployed that you want to make it even harder for them to find employment? This makes employees more expensive which prices a lot of people out of consideration. Now it becomes that much harder to justify hiring that guy with no experience who wants to break into a field and acquire some marketable skill. "You've never done this work before," says the employer, "and so your labor can probably only make our company maybe $3/hour. But with the minimum wage of $15/hour, PLUS if you get sick I have to keep paying you anyway when you're making us ZERO dollars an hour? I'm sorry but it looks like the only options the law allows me are to intentionally lose money on you or not to hire you in the first place, and only the second option helps me stay in business and keep myself and my other employees in jobs." Once again a leftist policy that claims to help the poor and the worker will have a negative impact on precisely that population. "We should catch up with the rest of the world!" You mean like France with their stubbornly persistent double-digit unemployment rate because all their mandated benefits make it too expensive to hire inexperienced (read "young or uneducated or unskilled") people? What do you have against these populations that you're trying to price them out of the market? It's one thing for an employer to voluntarily offer that benefit (i.e., to voluntarily accept that expense), and is an entirely different thing for that expense to be involuntarily tacked onto employees who may not be able to produce enough market value to justify that additional expense.
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    How is this even a question? This is an obvious public health issue. If you're sick or your loved ones are, you should be able to stay at home instead of spreading the virus/bacterial infection to others. The only way people will do so is if they can, i.e. they can afford to do it.
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    It's not the government's job to control things like this. Protect our unalienable rights. That's government's job. Not to micromanage. #NonAggressionPrinciple
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    One of the contributing factors to the spread of disease is the exposure to people in public settings that are sick and contagious. Many times these people are present in the work environments because they are faced with the loss of pay or the job itself if they stay out due to illness. This doesn't only apply to their illnesses but also to any dependents illness as well. When a child has a fever at school the guardian is called to retrieve the child and misses work and pay due to the dependents illness. The parent may have even taken the child to school suspecting that they may be called later in the day. This exposes the children at school, staff, and anyone along the way. One of the best ways to stop a contagion in its tracks is to expose as few people as possible. Having paid sick/family leave would go a long way to having a healthier working environment and keeping as many employees on the job as possible.
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    You don't want contagious people coming to work and infecting your workforce. While sick, their productivity is low.
    Like (14)
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    Absolutely. No question.
    Like (13)
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    The federal government can grant paid sick leave as it sees fit but should not impose such policies on the private sector or state governments.
    Like (12)
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