Create A National Standard for Paid Sick Days

Currently, there is no national requirement for employment to include paid sick days. Several states and local governments have passed legislation requiring paid sick days for workers, with eligibility and the amount of sick days available based on hours worked, size of employer, and other criteria. We believe there is value in establishing a national standard for paid sick days, with simplicity in implementation. For employers, voluntary arrangements are preferable to government mandates. From a worker perspective, the primary concern is to have adequate paid days off to deal with illness and other family care commitments outside work, without losing their jobs or essential income. In our group, employer and worker representatives agree that a national standard should act as a floor, not a ceiling, so that employers can voluntarily provide additional paid sick days.
  • With these considerations in mind, we recommend that Congress consider and pass legislation ensuring that employment provides workers with a reasonable amount of annual paid sick days. 
Along with a national standard, flexibility for workers and employers to determine the way paid sick days are used is desirable. That flexibility should not, however, create confusion among workers or employers about when paid sick days may be taken, or about the process for taking those days off and having them paid for by employers. It will be important to couple the establishment of a national standard with robust education and technical assistance for employers and employees to understand their respective rights and obligations. 

We strongly believe that federal legislation on paid sick days that meets the criteria we have outlined would be a major advance in quality work for millions of lower income workers and would remove a significant obstacle to upward mobility. At the same time, there are outstanding questions among us about whether and to what extent this legislation should (1) exempt small business (an idea with support among many in our group) and (2) pre-empt state and/or local legislation (an idea on which there is still substantial disagreement). 
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