- Reuters -
The emergency law would cover pandemic H1N1 flu or any other infectious disease, said California Representative George Miller, a Democrat who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee and who introduced the bill.
"Sick workers advised to stay home by their employers shouldn't have to choose between their livelihood, and their co-workers' or customers' health," Miller said.
"This will not only protect employees, but it will save employers money by ensuring that sick employees don't spread infection to co-workers and customers, and will relieve the financial burden on our health system swamped by those suffering from H1N1."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises employers to encourage sick workers to stay home so they do not spread H1N1. "But workers have been reporting that many of them are either afraid or cannot afford to take time off," Miller told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Paid sick leave is not required by U.S. laws.
Miller said the committee would hold a hearing the week of November 16 and he would press to have a full vote as soon as possible.
Miller said at least 50 million American workers are not paid for time taken off sick, "many in lower-wage jobs that have direct contact with the public such as the food-service and hospitality industry, schools and health care fields."