WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., says he is preparing emergency legislation to guarantee paid sick days for those infected by the H1N1 virus.
"This isn't just a workers' rights issue -- it's a public health emergency," Dodd said during a hearing on Capitol Hill. "Families shouldn't have to choose between staying healthy and making ends meet."
For the 57 million private sector workers who do not have paid sick leave available, coming down with H1N1 means either go to work sick and risk infecting co-workers or stay home and lose a day's pay, Dodd said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends people with H1N1 flu stay home until their fever has ended for at least another 24 hours.
The CDC has said someone who comes to work with H1N1 will infect 10 percent of his or her co-workers, Dodd said.
The legislation would include the following provisions:
-- Workers will be given up to seven paid sick days to use for leave due to their own flu-like symptoms, medical diagnosis or preventive care, to care for a sick child, or to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to the spread of flu.
-- Discretion on the need for sick leave would be left to the employee, although medical certification could be required.
-- The bill would go into effect 15 days after being signed into law, and it would sunset after two years.