Press Release

March 22, 2017
Cardin, Van Hollen, Cummings and Delaney Reintroduce Healthy Families Act to Allow Workers to Earn Paid Sick Days
41 million workers don't have access to paid sick leave and are forced to take time off or risk their jobs when they become ill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Congressmen Elijah Cummings and John Delaney (all D-Md.), have joined colleagues in both houses of Congress to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are sick, to care for a loved one, to obtain preventative care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

“Today 41 million Americans must choose between going to work sick or leaving behind their sick child, and risk losing their job. They must choose between their health and their economic security. No one, regardless of their line of work, should be forced to make such an impossible decision,” said Senator Cardin. “The Healthy Families Act would put an end to that. It would guarantee that all working families have access to paid sick time regardless of their profession or zip code. I intend to fight hard for its passage.”

“Right now more than 40 million private sector workers don’t have access to paid sick days – including 750,000 hard-working employees in Maryland. This is a question of both basic decency and economic security. No one in our nation should have to choose between going to a doctor and keeping a job. Maryland’s state lawmakers are working right now to resolve this issue, but we need to take federal action for all Americans without delay,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“People should not have to risk their jobs when their families’ health and well-being are at stake,” Congressman Cummings said. “This legislation will ensure that American workers no longer have to worry about losing their jobs when they go through trying times – whether it’s to care for a sick parent, child or spouse, or to take care of themselves.”

“A healthy workplace is good for business and a healthy workforce is good for our economy,” said Congressman Delaney. “The fact is, we all get sick and nobody should have to face the terrible dilemma of choosing between seeing a doctor and paying their bills, between taking care of a sick child or losing a day’s pay. The Healthy Families Act allows workers to earn up to seven days of paid leave a year and is good for working families and good for public health and I’m proud to cosponsor this bill.”

Today, 41 million private sector workers do not have access to paid sick days. The Healthy Families Act would allow worker at businesses with at least 15 employees to earn up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave each year. This would allow workers to stay home when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, seek preventive medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Businesses that already provide paid sick leave would not have to change their current policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards of the Healthy Families Act.

Studies show that sick paid leave can reduce the spread of contagious diseases like the flu and a national paid sick day policy would reduce emergency room visits by 1.3 million annually, saving $1.1 billion a year.

Besides Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, original Senate cosponsors include Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeffery A. Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Besides Congressmen Cummings and Delaney, original House cosponsors include Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D- MN), Donald S. Beyer Jr (D-VA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), John Larson (D-CT), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier, (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Dina Titus (D-NV), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Ami Bera (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Al Green (D-TX), André Carson (D-IN), Tim Walz (D-MN), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Elizabeth H. Esty (D-CT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-TX), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Robert Brady (D-PA), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Richard Nolan (D-MN),  Eliot Engel (D-NY), Bill Foster (D-IL), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), David Price (D-NC), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), and Brian Higgins (D-NY).

See below for more information on the Healthy Families Act.


FACT SHEET: The Healthy Families Act


Today, 41 million private-sector workers do not have access to paid sick days. That forces many Americans to make the difficult choice of losing a day’s pay – and in some cases losing their job – or showing up to work sick and potentially spreading an  illness to others. Even when workers have personal sick days, those might not cover the times when a child is ill and needs to stay home from school. That forces many parents to make the impossible choice of caring for their family or risking their livelihood.


The Healthy Families Act would allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to care for a family member and to address personal medical needs. This legislation will help workers and increase economic security, while taking an important step toward making sure our economy works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

The Act will help families care for their loved ones and themselves.

  • Under this legislation, workers can earn up to 56 hours (seven days) of paid sick time. Workers earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
  • Workers can use this time to stay home and get well when they are ill, to care for a sick family member, to seek routine medical care, or seek assistance related to domestic violence.

Access to paid sick days will help protect public health.

  • Workers earning low wages are the least likely to have paid sick days, and are often unable to afford to take a day off when they are ill. This can pose public health risks because many low-wage jobs require interaction with the public, for example, caring for seniors or children, working in stores and hotels, or serving or preparing food in restaurants.
  • Research has shown that paid sick days can reduce the spread of contagious illnesses like the flu, reduce occupational injuries, result in more preventive cancer screenings and other preventive care, and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. For example, the American Journal of Public Health found that the lack of paid sick days contributed to an additional 5,000,000 cases of influenza-like illness during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.

Expanding access to paid sick days will help families, businesses, and the economy.

  • According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, if all workers had access to paid sick days, emergency room visits would decline by 1.3 million visits a year, saving $1.1 billion annually. More than half of those savings would be to public health insurance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Nearly 20 states and localities have adopted policies that allow workers to earn paid sick days, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Connecticut, without posing adverse effects on businesses and the economy. Many employers in these localities expressed strong support for paid sick leave policies.

The Healthy Families Act provides important protections for workers and public health in a way that works for employers.

  • Small employers with fewer than 15 employees would not be required to provide paid sick days.
  • Employers that already provide this leave will not have to change their current policies, as long as their existing leave can be used for the same purposes described in the Act.
  • Employers can require workers to provide documentation supporting any request for leave longer than three consecutive days.