“Today, President Obama took concrete and very welcome steps to make our nation more family friendly. We applaud his executive order requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to allow all employees who work on federal contracts to earn paid sick time, and his powerful message urging Congress to – at long last – create the national family and medical leave program this country needs. President Obama noted that the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate, is one option; in our expert view, it is the strongest.
The new executive order is terrific news. It will mean 300,000 workers who service federal contracts but cannot earn paid sick days now will soon be able to earn the paid sick time they need to recover from common illness, seek preventive care, or care for sick children or other relatives. Others in the federal contracting workforce will have access to a greater amount of paid sick time than they do now. This action has the potential to help reduce the appalling number – more than 43 million, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – of workers who cannot earn a single paid sick day, no matter how long they hold their jobs.
As a result of this executive order, fewer workers will have to make impossible choices between their jobs and their health, or their family’s health, when stomach flu, strep throat or minor injuries strike. Twenty-five jurisdictions – including four states and some of our largest cities – have adopted paid sick days standards and this executive order, too, will make a tremendous difference. It should be implemented as proposed and without delay.
But the country needs more. We have waited too long for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would create a national paid sick days standard, and the FAMILY Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, to address those needs – so we are thrilled that President Obama this morning will add his voice to the chorus of leaders who are encouraging Congress to pass these bills. The Labor Department’s powerful new report, The Cost of Doing Nothing, comprehensively marshals data to support this call.
The FAMILY Act would provide the paid maternity leave mothers deserve, as well as paid leave for new fathers, people recovering from serious or long-term illness, and their family caregivers. The national program it creates would provide all workers a portion of their wages for up to 12 weeks to address a serious health condition, including pregnancy or childbirth; to deal with the serious health condition of a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child; to care for a new child; and/or for specific military caregiving and leave purposes. It is modeled on tested, successful state programs that are beneficial for both employees and employers and self-sustaining. It would help end the days when millions of Americans who work hard every day are one birth, accident or illness away from financial devastation because our public policies fail to provide paid leave.
In further welcome news for women and working families, we look forward to the release of the regulations on pay secrecy later this week, and thank the president for these actions and for making this a Labor Day to remember.”