Representative DeLauro introduced the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460) which would require businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to seven days of annual paid sick leave.  The paid leave could be taken to attend to an employee’s own or a family member’s illness, or used for preventative care such as doctor’s appointments. In addition, the bill provides leave for employees who are the victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.  Sick time requests may be oral or in written at least seven days prior to foreseeable absence or otherwise as soon as practicable. The employee must provide notice of the expected duration of the absence. Medical certification is required if more than three consecutive days are taken off.

Employees would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 56 hours (seven days) annually. Leave begins accruing from the first day of employment, but may not be taken until an employee works for 60 days. Up to 56 hours of paid sick leave would carry over from year to year, but an employer may permit additional accrual beyond the 56 hour minimum. Employers are not required to pay terminated employees for unused paid time off. If a separated employee is rehired within 12 months, that employee is entitled to the accrued leave already earned, and would be entitled to take sick leave immediately.

A business’s existing paid time off policy would not need to modified if it met or exceeded the minimum time periods and allow employees to take such leave for illness and other circumstances outlined in the Health Families Act. Employers must post a notice of the substantive and remedial provisions of the Act.

Aggrieved employees may bring civil claims to recoup unpaid time off benefits and to enforce the Act’s discrimination and retaliation protections.  The Secretary of Labor also has investigative and enforcement powers. The Bill, if enacted, is effective six months after the Department of Labor issues required regulations.