The Healthy Families Act, sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., would require all businesses with 15 or more workers to offer seven days of paid sick leave.
Many American workers have no paid sick leave at all. About half of all American workers, and half of all women workers, have no paid sick days. Three in four low-wage workers had no paid sick leave.
The bill will protect worker and public health, and also help the economy by increasing worker productivity, advocates said.
"No working person should be forced to choose between protecting their own or their families' health and a much-needed day's salary," said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center. "Women are hit especially hard when their employers don't offer paid sick leave because they typically shoulder a greater share of family care-giving needs than their male peers."
Sick workers can spread sickness to others if they cannot stay home, said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health.
"The proposed sick and family leave policies are also essential for containing the spread of infectious disease and limiting the risk of illness during public health emergencies," Levi said.