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June 02, 2009
Kennedy Introduces Paid Sick Bill in Senate

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would require employers to allow employees to earn at least 7 days of paid sick leave per year.

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The Healthy Families Act (S.1152) would require that employers permit employees to earn at least 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Under the legislation, an employer would be required to allow employees to earn at least 56 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year.

Employers would be required to allow workers to carryover unused paid sick leave to the next year. However, nothing in the legislation would require employers to allow employees to accrue more than 56 hours of earned paid sick time at a given time.

The legislation is similar to a bill that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Under the Senate legislation, which would cover employers with 15 or more employees, paid sick time could be used by an employee for any of the following:

  • An absence resulting from a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition of the employee.
  • An absence resulting from obtaining professional medical diagnosis or care, or preventive medical care, for the employee.
  • An absence for the purpose of caring for a child, a parent, a spouse, or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship, who--
    • has any of the conditions or needs for diagnosis or care; and
    • in the case of someone who is not a child, is otherwise in need of care.
  • An absence resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, if the time is to--
    • seek medical attention for the employee or the employee's child, parent, or spouse, or an individual related to the employee, to recover from physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
    • obtain or assist a related person in obtaining services from a victim services organization;
    • obtain or assist a related person described in paragraph (3) in obtaining psychological or other counseling;
    • seek relocation; or
    • take legal action, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Three jurisdictions already require paid sick leave: the District of Columbia, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. In San Francisco, an ordinance requires employers to give 1 hour of paid sick leave to an employee for every 30 hours worked. In November 2008, voters in Milwaukee approved a referendum to require employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

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