Paid Sick Leave

Paid Sick LeaveEver wish your co-worker with a cold would stay home, instead of bringing their germs to work? Maybe they can’t.

In most states, employers are actually not required to provide you with time off from work if you are sick or you need to see a doctor. If an employer offers you paid sick leave, then it is typically their choice to do so. However, more than 40% of all private sector workers and more than 80% of lower wage workers do not have paid sick days. This creates a difficult choice between caring for your health and keeping your job.

President Obama asked Congress to address this issue by passing a federal paid family and medical leave law. The Healthy Families Act is currently pending in Congress and proposes giving eligible workers up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year. In the meantime, states and cities are trying to fill the gap.

There are now a few states and cities across the country that currently, or within the next year, will require most employers to provide some form of sick leave to their employees:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Eugene and Portland, OR
  • Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson Irvington, Trenton, Montclair and Bloomfield, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Oakland and San Francisco, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle and Tacoma, WA

Each law varies a bit in the details. Here is a good comparison chart of the various laws:

Following this trend, there are additional states across the country now looking at this issue. For example, Maryland’s legislature is currently reviewing a bill that would require Maryland businesses with 10 or more employees to provide their employees with paid sick leave.

Advocates for these laws argue that they help employers by allowing workers to stay home while ill, preventing the spread of diseases (such as colds and flus) and getting them back on the job faster.

To learn more about paid sick leave legislation at federal and state levels, visit

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