WASHINGTON—At a legislative hearing of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions yesterday, Democrats criticized a Republican proposal that could ultimately cut workers’ access to paid sick leave.
H.R. 4219, or the proposed Workflex in the 21st Century Act, preempts numerous state laws, including existing laws covering paid sick days, overtime and predictable scheduling if the employer offers a voluntary flexible leave program.
“H.R. 4219 does not guarantee workers the ability to earn time off to care for themselves or a loved one and many workers may not even be better off than the status quo,” said Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), ranking member of the subcommittee. “This bill usurps the authority of state and local legislators to create critical workplace policies for their constituents, and its overly broad language would preempt employers from having to comply with state and local paid sick days laws, fair scheduling, overtime, and potentially a host of other laws.”
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 34 million workers cannot earn a single paid day off to care for themselves when they get sick or to go to the doctor.
“This bill undermines the carefully crafted state and local laws that my colleagues and I have worked hard and thoughtfully to create,” said Rhode Island State Sen. Gayle L. Goldin. “We talk to business owners, we talk to employees, health care professionals, and community activists. The laws we pass reflect those conversations and the unique needs of our community. At the same time, these state and local paid sick and safe time laws have much in common with one another.”
Committee Democrats continue to support a trio of paid leave and workplace flexibility policies introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) that will improve the quality of life for American workers:
The Healthy Families Act establishes a worker’s right to earn paid sick leave by providing one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year.
The FAMILY Act guarantees workers twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave, financed through a social insurance program funded by both employees and employers who each contribute two-tenths of one percent (0.2 percent) of wages. In return, workers would receive two-thirds of their wages during eligible family leave.
The Schedules that Work Act provides flexible, predictable and stable work schedules. The bill would give employees the right to make scheduling requests without employer retaliation, and provide retail, restaurant and janitorial workers with at least two-week’s notice of their schedule. (PR)