Brown pushes sick leave bill to stem spread of illness

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown hopes flu-ridden people who show up for work sick will help him get his bill approved.
Tom Jackson
Feb 1, 2013


Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said he plans to introduce a bipartisan bill, the Healthy Families Act, requiring all employers with 15 employees or more to provide sick leave to workers. This would allow them to stay home when they’re ill, instead of coming to work and infecting other people.

Brown, who has pushed for similar bills in the past, told Ohio reporters the current flu epidemic is helping to get his point across — everyone is better off if sick people stay home until they’re well again.

As of Jan. 19, there have been 3,081 influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio, according to the state health department. Those numbers include five hospitalizations in Erie County, three in Ottawa County, six in Huron County and 13 in Sandusky County, according to figures from Brown’s office.

Many Americans don’t get sick pay, forcing them to choose between going to work sick or taking a hit in their paycheck. Low-income workers are particularly likely to face that choice, he said.

“For far too many Americans, a day home from work means a day without pay,” he said.

Brown and Ohio’s other U.S. senator, Rob Portman, talked to reporters Wednesday.

In other news, both men said they are undecided on approving former senator Chuck Hagel as the new U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Brown said he leans toward approving Hagel, but he wants to talk to Hagel and watch the hearings before making up his mind.

Portman said he believes there should be a presumption that presidents should be able to fill important positions with the people they want.

Portman, who served in the George W. Bush administration as the U.S. Trade Representative and later served Bush as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that he himself went through two confirmations.

Even so, Portman said he wants some questions answered about Hagel’s attitude toward Iran and his support for Israel.


2cents's picture

It’s a great idea, not sure how to police who is sick and who is not? What form number do employers fill out and where do they send it to be reimbursed monthly by the fed for providing this service? I sure hope that they do not expect the employer to pick up the tab as well, could make buying from China even more favorable!


Yes this is just what we need: another reason to give minimum wage employees to not show up for work.

2cents's picture

Yes, when I was a supervisor we had a few regulars that did not show up on certain days, maybe they should code it HFB (hangover funding bill) : )


Really? Do you think only minimum wage employees abuse paid time off, be it sick time or personal time? Take a look at the golf courses at the first sign of spring? I know of judges who take unplanned days off just to play golf or go boating causing cases to get postponed and costing tax payers money. Employees not showing up for work is not limited to low wage employees, it crosses all wages. People like to skip work for a variety of reasons.


Well, the flu doesn't last only one day so if they have it they will be out for a few days. Companies can require a doctor's note. No note, no pay.


You can be sick with the flu and stay home for a few days withOUT needing a Doctor to tell you that. Same with the schools, miss more than ONE day and you need an excuse. Well when the doctor says you have the flu stay home call back if you are worse what do you do? Are people just not smart enough to know when they are sick, they NEED a dr to tell them? If people are worried about missing work and missing pay, how can they afford a DOCTOR's appointment? Heck if they are part time or low income, many do NOT have insurance either!


Yep, kind of ridiculous that minimum wage workers (or any worker for that matter) should get a few sick days each year. We should force workers to go to work sick, and we shouldn't pay anyone who doesn't show up for work regardless of the reason. That would make all of the slovenly workers in this country more responsible. And no one should have health insurance unless he or she can pay the full cost. To expect companies or taxpayers to pay for any of that is too much and cuts into profits thereby potentially limiting CEO pay. And companies should be able to fire anybody at any time for any reason. Worker's comp for on the job injuries is another scam that has to go. Time to roll back child labor laws and also. . . wait, some states have already tried that. Finally, the good old days are back!


Nice sarcasm!!! I love it!


I believe in paid sick days because I for one don't want a sick person coming to work and infecting me and everyone else. Plus they are not productive or safe if they are very ill. I really don't want them working if it is in the health or food industry. I would not be happy to have cook or server hacking up a lung or sneezing all over my food. However, when the bills are due and people are afraid of losing their jobs they will come into work because they will do what they need to do to survive. This bill, if passed, would allow them to stay home without getting punished and get paid so they don't have to worry about how they will pay the bills. Yes, abuse may happen but it is easy to weed out and get rid of people who abuse the system plus sick time is not unlimited.

Swamp Fox

How does Comrade Brown plan to pay for this? I know how the employers will pay for it, LESS WORKERS.

2cents's picture

The main problem will be the abuse, these politicians mean well but when you regular good attendance people see the slackers calling off and getting paid, they too, over time will say, HEY! What gives, and they too will start calling off on occasion because they want their extra paid vacation days like the slackers are getting. Just not a perfect world out there now is it. Just leave it to the “15 employee CEO” to head off the Bahamas in their private Lear jet for a weekend to pick up the tab!
Have fun today, I have to go to work!


exactly. people that have sick pay should use it that not just for a day off.


I agree sounds like a great idea but it is hard to police. Our facility offers short and long term disability/ sick pay; very liberal policy. Twenty-dollar co-pay is all it takes to get a doctors excuse for several added days of vacation.


Happy camper so true. How many people show up knowing they are under the weather, but fear for their job - only to make others sick?


I love coming to work sick . I make it a point to try to infect as many other employees as possible . If I have to suffer , so should everyone else ; ) Seriously though , there are people where I'm employed that miss work even though we don't get sick pay anyway . Every job has their regular no-shows . We'll always have the ones that love to party longer then they should .


From the article:

"The Healthy Families Act, requiring all employers with 15 employees or more to provide sick leave to workers."

Fifteen? That ain't "fair!" What about the employer with fourteen or fewer workers, shouldn't they be required to provide paid sick leave for illness?

What about the self-employed retailer? Shouldn't he/she be forced by the govt. to close his/her store in order to keep the public safe?

2cents's picture

Keep it at 14.5 and then form another company, or have your employees be subcontractors. It will never end until there is no incentive to take the risk of starting your own company! I have paid individule employees more in a year than I have made, it happens when things are slow.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You and Contango have addressed very real concerns I have had. As a business owner I am paranoid about doing the right thing, not breaking the law, and trying to succeed while I am at it. But things like this senatorial mulling really provide a blow to morale. Not because I don't care about my (future) employees but because it is one more presumption about the viability of a business made by two people hundreds of miles away. It makes me, who is already in business, nervous to grow so I can only imagine how daunting it is for those who are considering it.

What the statistics quoted don't mention is the breakdown of flu infections in the population. Not that I know off-hand, but if 70% of them are from people 60+ and 20% are from 12- these two senators are pondering a law that will control and hamper thousands of businesses; the vast majority of whom we can safely presume don't employ the "sickest" swathe of population. All in all it needs more research into the medical and economic ramifications, at least from what has been presented here.

Considering in the Jackson Street Beat both senators admitted to not really knowing what was in the "fiscal cliff" bill they both voted on...

P.S. - Contango, I promise I keep tissues and hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE in my store and will wear a surgical mask if I have to. But the store not being open is not an option (I know you wrote what you did tongue-in-cheek, just sayin').


Its really easy. If you miss because you are sick, you need a Dr's excuse. Solves a lot of Friday and Monday "Im sick" days.


Major reasons. Look for patterns:

Call in sick on Mon. - hung over
Call in sick on Fri. - get a start on the wkend. Apathy.

Pterocarya frax...

No, it really isn't that easy. The last time I called my doctor in between my annual checkup, they said it would be 3 weeks till I could get an appointment. Otherwise, I would have to go sit for hours at the ER and waste $75 instead of $20 office visit copay.


Just what we need, more governmental regulations. As was stated earlier, what forms do the small business owners need to fill out and where do they mail the form to get reimbursed? New taxes will be needed to cover this program, because no business is going to pay someone to sit at home with pay. Small business is the backbone of the economy and to force more regulations on them will further stall the economy.


It’s always best to remember that Comrade Sen. Brown sports a degree in Russian Studies.

IMO, he obviously concentrated a bit too heavy on the seventy yrs. of socio-economic failure of the Soviet Union and has unearthed the "good policies."

BTW: Since theoretically in the USSR, the State employed all workers the "official" unemployment rate was zero.

A statistical "triumph" of socialism over capitalism. :)

The Big Dog's back

Fire up the ovens.


Simple, if you don't like the policy, leave. Employers will find out if it takes offering sick leave to get good people and will offer it or not. The American way!

2cents's picture

I agree, just don't make it another law!

Simple Enough II

Well if the government wants to institute it, then we know it will be poorly planned, far exceed the cost estimates provided and fraught with abuse.


Unlike private companies and corporations which always conduct themselves with honesty, transparency, with concern for the environment and do what's best for the employees who keep it in business while not ridiculously compensating the heads of the companies and would never do anything to jeopardize our economy by fraudulent means.

Uncommon Sense

I've got an idea. Why don't we just pass a law requiring people to stay home when sick? I mean, after all, if you're not healthy enough to go to work, are you really healthy enough to go out in public? In fact, the more I think about it, the more I see the makings of another government bureacracy. When someone gets any symptoms of illness, they will be required to report it to a the new government agency. The agency will then coordinate sick time payment, arrange for the delivery of food and medicine and post the necessary quarantine warnings at the home. A website can be created with the names, addresses and photos of everyone sick so the rest of the public can be protected from the illness. Cable companies can be required to scroll the information across the bottom of their programming just to get the word out more. I see huge potential here for government to create more jobs and put more tax dollars (AKA borrowed money from China) to work! We could call it the Bureau of Sickness or "BS" for short!