Maybe swine flu tipped the balance when people’s kids had to come to work due to closed schools. Or the cratering economy made more people fear job loss for taking a sick day. Or employers started noticing the very real costs of presenteeism. Regardless, it’s never been more apparent that every worker needs access to paid sick days, in order to care for themselves and their family.

The timing couldn’t be better for national legislation to address this matter —  and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have stepped up to the plate by introducing the Healthy Families Act (Senate Bill 1152, House Resolution 2460).

HFA would guarantee every worker the right to earn up to seven paid sick days per year, ensuring people would no longer have to choose between getting a paycheck and their recovery when they get sick or need to care for a sick family member.

The bill requires employers with 15 or more employees to let workers earn up to seven paid sick days per year, to be used to address an employee’s short-term medical needs, such as the flu, or those of his or her family. It includes pro-rated leave for part-time employees, and sick days can be used for an employee’s medical appointments, preventative or diagnostic treatment; and to care for a family member with comparable needs.

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