Failure to address this problem puts our public health and economy at risk. Nationally,nearly half of private sector workers have no paid sick leave.
When one worker has noalternative but to go to work sick,
are at increased risk of contagion andlowered productivity.Workers with same-sex partners and children need the ability to take paid time off to carefor themselves and their families without losing a paycheck and compromising theireconomic stability. Due to the inherent inequity in access to federal benefits for same-sex couples and their children, including the benefits provided by the FMLA, using anemployer’s paid leave structure is often the only option when tending to the long-termillness of a partner or other family member. For those families whose employers do notprovide paid leave, there
no options beyond missing work, as well as a paycheck, orlosing a job entirely.Many employers have already included families headed by lesbian and gay couples forpurposes of family sick leave. The HRC Foundation tracks employers that providedomestic partner-inclusive health benefits. Since 2006, a majority of Fortune 500companies have offered benefits to same-sex partners of employees. Today, 57 percent— a total of 286 — of the Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits. Theseemployers and state governments realize that not providing health benefits to theseworkers greatly limits their ability to maintain a stable and continuous workforce byhelping employees retain their jobs when a family emergency strikes. We encourageCongress to follow their lead.
III. Paid Leave Should Include Families Headed by Lesbian and Gay Couples
To further ensure families are able to take the time they need while maintaining theirfinancial security, we support legislation that would provide paid leave under the FMLA.Legislation such as the Family Leave Insurance Act,
introduced in the 110
Congress byRepresentative Stark (D-CA) and soon to be introduced in the 111
Congress, providesfor paid FMLA leave and explicitly includes families headed by lesbian and gay couples.Such legislation is a necessary and welcome improvement to the FMLA.The Act provides essential benefits to employees seeking to take leave to care for adomestic partner and their children. The Act gives access not only to crucial FMLAleave benefits for families headed by lesbian and gay couples, but also ensures this leavewill be paid. Such leave will allow all working families the opportunity to provide carewhen it is needed most.This benefit will also provide relief to low income workers, considerably improving theirlives, the health of their families, and their ability to spend vital time with new children.
Vicky Lovell, Ph.D.,
No Time to be Sick: Why Everyone Suffers When Workers Don’t Have Paid Sick Leav
e, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, May 2004, citing U.S. Department of Labor statistics from1996, 1997 and 1998.
H.R. 5873, 110