In an effort to take advantage of the swine flu “crisis”, a California Democrat has suggested the federal government pass a law to demand employers provide up to five days of sick time if an employee is told to stay home if they are sick.
The legislation targets employers with 15 or more employees who do not currently offer at least five sick days. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, announced the emergency, temporary legislation to ensure workers “shouldn’t have to choose between their livelihood, and their co-workers’ or customers’ health.”
Among other provisions, the Emergency Influenza Containment Act:
- Guarantees a sick worker up to five paid sick leave days a year if an employer ‘directs’ or ‘advises’ a sick employee to stay home or go home.
- Covers both full-time and part-time workers (on a pro-rated basis) in businesses with 15 or more workers. Employers that already provide at least 5 days’ paid sick leave are exempt.
- An employer can end paid sick leave at any time by informing the employee that the employer believes they’re well enough to return to work. Employees may continue on unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act or other existing sick leave policies.
- Employees who follow their employer’s direction to stay home because of contagious illness cannot be fired, disciplined or made subject to retaliation for following directions.
- Takes effect 15 days after being signed into law and sunsets after two years.
Can someone please tell me where Congress gets off suggesting this legislation? If they can do this, why would they not be able to demand employers who already provide five days of paid time off for illness, an additional five days specifically due to H1N1?
For that matter, the federal government does not mandate any paid time off for illness at all right now, so why not just create a federal law that requires every employer to provide every employee with paid time off for illness?
Ahh, don’t forget, you need to mention the crisis and ensure you never let a good one go to waste…
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises employers to encourage sick workers to stay home so they do not spread H1N1. “But workers have been reporting that many of them are either afraid or cannot afford to take time off,” Miller told reporters in a telephone briefing. …
Miller said at least 50 million American workers are not paid for time taken off sick, “many in lower-wage jobs that have direct contact with the public such as the food-service and hospitality industry, schools and health care fields.”