Employers who send their workers home with the flu will have to offer up to five paid sick days under legislation introduced Tuesday by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.
The Emergency Influenza Containment Act targets low-paid employees with significant direct public contact such as food service workers who often lack paid sick leave and cannot afford to take unpaid time off, said Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
He cited Centers for Disease Control estimates that a sick worker will infect one in 10 co-workers.
“Sick workers advised to stay home by their employers shouldn’t have to choose between their livelihood, and their co-workers’ or customer’s 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 emergency, two-year bill covers employers with 15 or more workers. Employers that already offer five or more days of paid sick leave are exempt.
Miller said he will holding hearings on the legislation the week of Nov. 16 and hopes to bring the measure to a floor vote “as soon as possible. The flu is not waiting for the congressional calendar.”