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.