H1N1 Paid Sick Leave Legislation Introduced

Nov 11, 2009

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced the Emergency Influenza Containment Act (H.R. 3991) on November 3. The legislation is aimed at addressing the pending H1N1 flu season.

NSBA wrote Chairman Miller in opposition to H.R. 3991. As with other mandated leave proposals by any other name in the 111th Congress, including the Healthy Families Act, H.R. 3991 provides a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to recognize the complex nature of small businesses. Click here to view NSBA’s letter of opposition and here to view NSBA’s policy on mandatory leave policy.

Specifically, H.R. 3991 would require employers who send employees home, or tell them to stay home, because they have symptoms of a contagious illness, or have been in close contact with a person who has a contagious illness, to pay the employees sick leave for each workday the employee complies with the order, up to a maximum of five workdays during a 12-month period.  The bill would apply to any employer with more than 15 employees, and to all full and part-time employees. The Act would take effect 15 days after it is signed into law and would expire in two years. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families held a hearing Nov. 10 titled “The Cost of Being Sick: H1N1 and Paid Sick Days,” to discuss these same issues. While Senate companion legislation has not been introduced, Subcommittee Chairman Chris Dodd (D – Conn.) indicated that he will do so shortly.

All businesses are wrestling and preparing to appropriately deal with the threat of H1N1 this flu session the same as they have for every other flu season. Instead of pursuing costly unfunded mandates on small businesses, the federal government should assume a supportive role by continuing to serve as a resource for small businesses by offering public health information through education channels.

NSBA has disseminated resources developed by the Department of Health and Human Services for H1N1. The Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza: A Preparedness Guide for Small Business provides far greater support to small businesses and their employees than federally passed mandated sick leave policies. In addition, NSBA has provided comments to a Senate work group tasked with developing proposals for workplace flexibility in a consensus-based, bipartisan manner. Click here to see NSBA’s comments on workplace flexibility.

Watch the NSBA Web site for more information on H.R. 3991, its Senate companion legislation, and other news on H1N1 as it is made available.

© 2007 National Small Business Association