Rosa DeLauro: Swine Flu "Looming Large" Behind Sick Leave Bill

06/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced a bill this week that would allow American workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. A study released Monday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is the alone among 22 of the most developed countries in its failure to mandate short- and long-term sick leave for workers.

"The recent H1N1 flu had every health professional, including the president, saying 'stay home,'" DeLauro told the Huffington Post. "It's nice for them to say -- they're not going to get docked."

DeLauro, along with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), has introduced this kind of legislation before to no avail. But this time, with Democratic control of Congress and the White House -- and in the wake of a still-spreading swine-flu outbreak -- DeLauro is much more confident about the bill's prospects of becoming law.

"It's a much different environment, a much different atmosphere, and this flu thing brought it home looming large," DeLauro said. "For me, this is an issue of what's right and what's wrong."

DeLauro's bill would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.* She stressed that it provides protections for businesses -- companies with fewer than 15 employees will be exempt, and companies that already provide leave won't have to change their policies.

DeLauro said that the bill will bring government policy in line, not just with other countries, but with the modern American lifestyle, in which it's less and less common for a household to have a stay-at-home parent to care for sick children, so a parent loses out on wages or a sick kid infects his classmates at school.

"Our public policy has not caught up with the way today people are living their lives."

HuffPost readers: Has illness ever put you in a difficult situation at work? Has a family member's illness ever put you in a bind? Share your stories -- email us at submissions+sickleave@huffingtonpost.com.

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*This article originally stated that a worker would earn one day of sick leave for 30 hours of work. The bill would provide one HOUR of sick time per 30 hours worked.

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