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President Obama to call on Congress to pass paid sick leave for workers
The President will also announce programs to help cities and states provide paid family leave
The White House chose LinkedIn to unveil the President's plans
President Barack Obama will renew his push for paid sick days and paid family leave for the millions of American workers who don’t have either during a visit to Baltimore on Thursday, according to Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President.
Jarrett, who used an unconventional outlet to outline Obama’s expected announcements – in a blog for LinkedIn – said the President will call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of Americans to earn up to seven days per year of paid sick time.
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“How many Americans have to show up to work when battling an illness even when they know they won’t be at their best, it will lengthen their recovery time, and they may likely spread their sickness to others?” wrote Jarrett.
“The last thing we should do is add guilt, fear, and financial hardship on working parents as they try to do what’s right – while keeping their job,” she added.
More than 40% of private sector workers in the U.S. currently don’t get paid sick days, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
During a lunch with a group of women in Baltimore, the President will also call on cities and states to pass similar laws at the local level.
In 2006, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to guarantee access to earned sick days, and in 2011, Connecticut became the first state to mandate the benefit, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
In the November election, the National Partnership for Women and Families said voters approved paid sick leave ballot measures in Massachusetts, Oakland, California and Montclair and Trenton, New Jersey.
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The President will also announce programs to help cities and states provide paid leave to American workers. Currently, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth of a child or caring for an ill parent. Many employers, including the federal government, do not pay for that leave.
In his 2015 budget, the President will propose $2.2 billion to reimburse up to five states for three years for their costs associated with implementing a paid leave policy, $35 million in grants to states and $1 million through the Labor Department for feasibility studies around providing paid leave programs, Jarrett told CNN.
Last year, the President’s budget included $500,000 for feasibility studies, which three states and the District of Columbia used to help craft what will become paid leave programs, she added.
At the federal level, the President will also sign a presidential memorandum directing his agencies to allow federal employees to have access to at least six weeks of paid leave when a new child arrives or to care for ill family members, and propose that Congress offer six weeks of paid administrative leave as well, said Jarrett.
The push for paid sick days and paid leave stems, in part, from last year’s first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, said Jarrett.
“The conversation we had that day was only the beginning. It has carried on in the months since then around the country and the President has continued to take action to make progress for families,” she said.
Jarrett also wrote directly about why the White House chose LinkedIn to reveal the news about the President’s push for paid sick and family leave, saying the social networking site was in “the best position to drive change.”
“This is the world’s largest online audience of professionals. And if you’re an employer, the folks who are coming to your company’s pages will be looking to see if you offer precisely these sorts of policies on your books,” wrote Jarrett.
“Keep in mind that nearly 1-in-2 working parents has turned down a job because it would not work for their family. Don’t let your job be one of those,” she said.