Democrats Promote Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave Proposals at Hearing

WASHINGTON – TODAY, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing to examine workplace leave proposals. Millions of working people across the country lack access to the flexible workplace policies that help them balance work and family. In 2016, only 13 percent of private industry employees had access to paid family leave through their employers, 37 million workers did not earn a single paid sick day, and approximately 41 percent of hourly workers received their work schedules only seven days in advance.

“The American people have embraced the need for paid leave policies as a core economic issue,” said Congressman Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. “Workers should not be forced into economic hardship in order to take care of themselves or their families. Our federal laws must provide guaranteed benefits to help working people balance work and family.”

Committee Democrats raised concerns about a corporate-backed proposal that would allow employers to establish workplace flexibility plans to avoid compliance with state and local governments’ laws requiring earned sick days, paid leave, and predictable scheduling. This proposal, Workflex in the 21st Century Act (H.R. 4219), is promoted under the guise of “flexibility,” but fails to provide guaranteed benefits to workers.

“The American people overwhelming support paid leave legislation. Yet, Congress has failed to respond to this call. Eight states and thirty-two localities have stepped in to provide sick leave and five states provide family and medical leave,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “Rather than supporting reasonable cost-effective proposals, corporate interests are proposing legislation that would exempt businesses from the requirements of a state or local government’s paid leave laws and allow voluntary employer-sponsored programs which provide less generous benefits. There should be room for bipartisan cooperation to address an issue that affects every worker and every family.”

In the hearing, committee Democrats pushed for legislation that would provide a guaranteed floor of benefits from which states, localities and employers can build more generous plans to help working people balance work and family.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to workplace leave policies, but there is a basic floor of protection that every worker in America deserves,” said Hans Riemer, President of the Montgomery County Council. “Congress should adopt common-sense policies like the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1516), FAMILY Act (H.R. 947), and Schedules that Work Act (H.R. 2942) to provide a floor for workers across the country, while allowing states and local governments to determine what additional protections make sense for them.”

OPENING STATEMENT: Subcommittee Ranking Member Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL)

FULL TESTIMONY: Mr. Hans Riemer, President, Montgomery County Council


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