Vol. LVIII No. 2

Guacamole Is Extra but the Norovirus Comes Free: Implementing Paid Sick Days for American Workers

Abstract: The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides eligible workers with twelve weeks of unpaid leave. Because the FMLA excludes most short-term illnesses, workers suffering from the flu or similar illnesses still go to work while sick. This phenomenon, referred to as presenteeism, poses a risk to public health and reduces workplace productivity. Some states and cities have adopted paid sick time laws, but other states have adopted preemption laws prohibiting local paid sick time legislation. The Healthy Families Act (“HFA”), which proposes federally-mandated, employer-provided paid sick days for all employees in businesses of fifteen employees or more, would resolve this battle over paid sick days. Despite being repeatedly re-introduced in Congress over the last decade, the HFA has yet to gain sufficient political momentum to move beyond subcommittee. This Note argues that the HFA, the best means of reducing presenteeism in the workplace, should be re-worked to accommodate businesses’ concerns, including cost and employee abuse.

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