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Employers Required to Pay Sick Leave- Will Work/Family Balance be Mandated by the Government?

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March 19, 2009

With a new administration and a dismal economy, new and amended laws are on the horizon to transform the ever-changing world we call human resources.  Among these changes, Michelle Obama is making work/family balance a top priority in her role of first lady.  So what does this mean?  For the first time, the government is attempting to mandate paid sick days and paid leave for businesses.  It is proposed that employers with 11 or more employees provide nine paid sick days for full-time workers and smaller businesses provide five days.  While these particular mandates are still in the early stages, activists predict quick action on the Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with at least 15 employees to provide seven paid sick days per year.

Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. have already voted to make their cities require employers to provide sick days.  Those opposing these mandates state that they discourage people from opening new businesses and that employers are already struggling as it is.  Those in support of the new mandates state that the U.S. currently ranks behind other nations and this would give relief to working families.  For example:

  • The U.S. is one of only four countries out of 173 that doesn’t guarantee some form of paid maternity leave; the other countries are Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea.
  • Sixty-six other countries ensure that fathers either receive paid paternity leave or have a right to paid parental leave.
  • At least 145 countries provide paid sick days, with 136 providing a week or more annually, while the U.S. has no federal law providing for paid sick days.

Jamie Harrell is a Client Service Executive for Staff One, Inc., a leading HR Outsourcing company.

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