May 19, 2023

Duckworth, Durbin Join Colleagues to Introduce Legislation Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave to Workers in America


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] –  U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 40 of their Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Healthy Families Act of 2023, which would guarantee paid sick leave to workers in America.

Today, the U.S. remains one of the only two major countries that does not provide paid time off for short-term illnesses or paid leave for family and medical needs and emergencies.  Currently, 34 million workers lack any paid sick time at all – including 25 percent of the private sector workforce and nine percent of the public sector workforce.  Things are worse for low-income workers and households, reaching a breaking point for millions of Americans during the pandemic.  In addition, nearly one in four employed mothers return to work within two weeks of giving birth and one in five retirees have left the workforce earlier than planned to care for an ill family member.  It is estimated that more than two million women left the U.S. workforce since the start of the pandemic, many forced to leave to care for their family.

“No one should have to choose between caring for a sick child or family member and missing a paycheck, or even losing their job,” Duckworth said. “It’s long past due that hardworking Americans have a basic level of paid sick leave to keep themselves, their families and communities safe. Furthermore, caregivers need the ability to stay home to care for a loved one. Americans need to be confident they can do these things and still keep their jobs so they can provide for their families.”

“America is one of the few industrialized nations in the world that does not guarantee paid sick leave.  It’s shameful.  We cannot settle for a system that abandons working Americans,” said Durbin.  “With the Healthy Families Act of 2023, we are ensuring that all American workers have access to the paid sick leave they deserve.”

Workers without paid sick leave are three times more likely to delay or forgo necessary health care for themselves and nearly twice as likely to forgo medical care for their families compared to working adults with paid sick days.  However, workers with access to paid sick leave are 28 percent less likely to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries and employers who provide paid sick leave see 25 percent less turnover in their workforce.  According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a universal paid sick days policy would reduce preventable visits to the emergency room and result in cost savings of $1.1 billion per year, including $500 million in savings for public health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The Healthy Families Act of 2023 would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability.  The legislation would also:

  • Allow workers in businesses with fewer than 15 employees to earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days each year to be used for the same reasons – unless their employers choose to offer paid sick days.
  • Allow workers who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use their paid sick days to recover or seek assistance related to an incident.
  • Provide a simple method for calculating accrued sick time.  Workers would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year, unless the employer selects a higher limit.

More than 120 organizations have endorsed the Healthy Families Act of 2023, including the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, MomsRising, Family Values at Work, Paid Leave For All, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Nurses United, and A Better Balance.

In addition to Duckworth and Durbin, the legislation was cosponsored by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Read testimonials and statements of support, here.

Read the fact sheet, here.

Read the bill text, here.

Read the list of endorsing organizations, here.