“America is more family friendly today thanks to workers, businesses, advocates and lawmakers in Rhode Island and Portland, Ore. In Rhode Island, the nation’s third family leave insurance program took effect today, ensuring that state residents can take up to four weeks away from their jobs with some pay to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. And in Portland, Ore., an additional 120,000 workers now have the guaranteed right to earn job-protected sick days, as the nation’s fifth* paid sick days law takes effect.
Also today, the minimum wage increased in 13 states and four cities. This is great news for working families and the country. Ensuring women and all workers are paid fairly and well enough to keep food on the table and their families out of poverty is essential to the well-being of our nation.
The implementation of these laws kicks off a year of progress and promise for the country’s working families. In the coming weeks, we anticipate the expansion of D.C.’s paid sick days law to cover tipped restaurant and bar workers. On January 24, Jersey City’s sick days law will take effect. And on April 1, more than one million New York City residents will gain the right to earn sick days as that city’s sick days law takes effect. These advances will make a tremendous difference for families and communities.
These laws also help pave the way for the national family friendly workplace standards the country needs, like the Healthy Families Act and the just-introduced Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. The Healthy Families Act would establish a national paid sick days standard, and the FAMILY Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program modeled on programs already in place in California, New Jersey and, as of today, Rhode Island. Both laws are urgently needed.
As Congress prepares for the New Year, it should recognize the momentum around and demand for family friendly workplace policies and prioritize passage of the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act. When it does, working people across the country will no longer have to worry that one case of the flu, the birth of child or a serious illness will mean the loss of critical income or their families’ economic security. And America’s residents, businesses and economy will be better off as a result.”
* Paid sick days laws are already in effect in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle and the state of Connecticut. Laws in New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey, will go into effect in 2014.