Recently, we detailed the efforts to push for paid sick leave by state and local governments in light of California’s passage of a statewide paid leave law. Soon after our post, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau Director Latifa Lyles posted an entry on the DOL’s official “Work in Progress” blog, advocating for broader paid family leave across the country. Lyle notes that the United States remains the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. The post included data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and offered arguments in support of paid leave. Most notably, the DOL announced that it has approved new funding for studies on the feasibility of implementing paid leave:
Today, we were delighted to announce that the Department of Labor has awarded $500,000 to assist Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia in funding feasibility studies on paid leave. The studies will inform the development or implementation of paid family and medical leave programs at the state level – seeking solutions that work for their unique communities.
As Secretary Perez has said, it’s time for America to lead on paid leave. It’s time to make strides in our workplace policies to meet the long-standing realities of today’s working women and families. It is critical to the nation’s economic success, and these grants are an important step in the right direction.”
Rhode Island (along with California and New Jersey) expanded its state disability insurance program to cover family leave. In Rhode Island, workers may receive a portion of their regular paycheck for up to four weeks through the state disability insurance program. The District of Columbia’s amendments to its Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act recently took effect upon the D.C. Council’s approval of its 2015 budget. The amended law requires D.C. employers to provide paid leave to employees for physical or mental illness, preventive medical care, family care, and certain absences associated with domestic violence or sexual abuse. The amount of leave that an employer is required to provide varies depending on its size. The D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) has updated its “Official Notice” to reflect these changes. All D.C. employers must conspicuously post the “Official Notice,” which is available on the DOES website.
As we discussed previously, Massachusetts voters will consider an initiative on the November ballot, Question 4 (“The Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative”), that would “entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use sick time according to certain conditions.” Roman Catholic bishops and a group of 75 state economists have come out in support of the initiative. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference, with signed support from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and Bishops Robert J. McManus, Mitchell T. Rozanski, and Edgar M. da Cunha, has called the initiative “reasonable and fair” because of the security it would provide low-wage workers. The economists’ statement explains that research points to economic benefits associated with sick time and highlights what they see as a lack evidence of employment losses or reduced economic activity in cities and states that have passed paid sick day ordinances.