President Obama talked up paid sick days on the campaign trail leading up to his election and the First Lady has discussed paid sick leave, as well as broader work and family balance issues, on multiple occasions.
But we had yet to hear a clear signal from the new Obama Administration on where they stood on federal legislation that would guarantee all workers a basic number of paid sick days to care for themselves or a sick family member.
Today the signal came loud and clear, from the Deputy Secretary of the Labor Department, Seth Harris. As Matthew Yglesias notes in his blog over at Think Progress, Mr. Harris presented testimony on the Healthy Families Act and said:
In conclusion, it is clear that while much has been done to help prepare for a national health emergency like 2009 H1N1, more is needed to help protect the economic security of working families who must choose between a pay check and their health and the health of their families. That is why the Administration supports the Healthy Families Act and other proposals that advance workplace flexibility and protect the income and security of workers. I appreciate your time today, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
I wouldn’t wish a flu pandemic on anyone but if that’s what it takes to put paid sick days on the agenda, I’ll take it.