A Direct Threat to Local Paid Sick Days Laws is Currently Making its Way Through Congress

//A Direct Threat to Local Paid Sick Days Laws is Currently Making its Way Through Congress

Earlier this year, Austin made history when the city council passed the first paid sick days ordinance in Texas. Businesses and communities benefit from this common-sense policy because paid sick days improve the health and well-being of working people and their families. Now Congress is trying to prevent cities and states from requiring employers to provide paid sick days and other worker protections.

On July 24th, the U.S House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions is considering legislation (H.R. 4219) that would undermine local and state paid sick day policies. This is a direct attack on the progress made in Austin and over 40 other cities and states across the country to ensure that vulnerable workers don’t have to make the impossible choice between their health and making ends meet.

H.R 4219, misleadingly named the “Workflex in the 21st Century Act,” would let businesses evade state or local laws that relate to leave or scheduling by filing a form with the federal government saying they offer a certain amount of paid time off and a ‘flexible’ work arrangement. But there’s a catch:  employers could deny leave to workers if they decide it “unduly disrupts” their business – even when a worker has an urgent health or family need.

Other Major Concerns on H.R. 4219:

  • Allows companies to subtract six federal holidays from the minimum paid time off requirements, leaving employees with less guaranteed paid days off for illness, vacation, or personal time;
  • Allows employers the discretion to remove elements from local policies, such as the ability to use earned leave as “safe” leave instead of sick leave, as permitted by the Austin ordinance. This allows for victims of sexual or domestic violence or stalking to take a day off of work to deal with the aftermath of those situations;
  • Eliminates worker protections against retaliation from their employers so they don’t get fired for using the paid sick time they’ve earned.

Learn more about how H.R. 4219 would undermine the efforts of communities in Texas to raise the bar for working families through policies that are good for the economy, workforce, and public health.

Take Action:

Working families need paid time to care for themselves and their loved ones and flexibility in their jobs, but this unworkable, unfair and inequitable proposal does not provide a real solution or provide workers with the flexibility to stay home from work when they are sick and still be able to support themselves and their families.

Please contact your Congressional representative and let them know that H.R 4219 gives too much discretion to employers to evade the standards that local voters have set to protect the health and well-being of their communities. To call your member of Congress, dial (202) 224-3121 and a U.S Capitol switchboard operator will connect you directly with your Representative’s office. To find out who your representative is, click here.

Chandra Villanueva oversees the Center's work on education, workforce development and job quality. She joined CPPP in 2010 and focused on school finance and education policy ranging from early education to higher education access and success. Prior to joining the Center, Chandra was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City. At WPA, she educated formerly incarcerated women on the legislative process and researched options for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. Chandra has also served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center with placements in Tucson, Arizona and Washington, DC. Chandra earned a Master of Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

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