On May 18, 2009, Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, introduced the Healthy Families Act of 2009 (H.R. 2460) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which is largely the same as bills issued in prior sessions of Congress, would require employers with more than 15 employees to provide workers with up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each year. Under the bill, workers would accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, could begin using the paid sick leave after 60 days of employment, and could roll over unused sick leave into the next calendar year. Similar to the proposed Ohio legislation that was withdrawn before the 2008 November elections, employers would not be permitted to ask for written documentation of the need for leave until after the employee has missed three consecutive days.

Most of you will recall that last year’s Ohio legislative proposal was withdrawn following political negotiations with Governor Strickland’s office due to concern that the bill would devastate Ohio’s business climate. While H.R. 2460 would not appear to disproportionately impact Ohio, it would impact more Ohio employers than the proposed Ohio legislation would have impacted since the Ohio law would not have required employers with 25 or fewer employees to provide paid sick leave. At a time when American businesses, particularly small businesses, are still reeling from the economic downturn, federally mandated paid sick leave — while perhaps laudable in its intent — looks like it will create more problems than it cures. The change in Presidential administrations and the make up of Congress, together with the concerns over the H1N1 flu virus, suggest that this might be the year that mandated paid sick leave passes.