US workers who take sick leave to care for family members could face an extra $1,200 in paychecks if the government approves a bill that would require employers to pay workers for any sick days that they are not in.
A proposal approved by the House of Representatives in late March would force employers to make up for any unpaid sick leave by imposing an additional 10% fee on employers who pay for sick leave.
A provision requiring employers to provide a written statement that workers are covered by the legislation has also been introduced in the Senate.
The legislation, introduced by Representative Mike Quigley, R-Indiana, is expected to be voted on in the House next week.
The House measure requires that employers provide written statements from their employees explaining that workers have been taken off sick leave and their workweek is over.
Employers can then submit a written explanation of the reason why the workers are not paid.
The bill would also require employers with 10 or more employees to pay an additional 1% tax on any paychecks received after a sick leave period.
“It’s not just sick leave,” Quigle told CNN.
“If you take sick days to care the kids or the grandkids, that could be counted as unpaid sick time.
You’d have to provide that to the worker, but if you take unpaid sick days and you’re taking a leave to do a job that requires you to be in that capacity, that would be an extra 10%.
That could add up to an additional $1 million.”
The bill also requires that a written request for sick time be sent to the employers and would require the employers to document the reason for any missed sick days in a written contract.
In a statement to CNN, Quigleys spokeswoman Jennifer McEwan said: “The bill that Congressman Quigly is introducing today would require that any sick time taken by a worker be recorded in their wages, and that the worker’s employer must pay for the lost time.
We are hopeful that the House will act on this and make the sick leave requirement permanent.”
Under the legislation, workers would not be able to claim sick leave for any reason, including family or medical reasons, in the form of pay.
Quigley has previously pushed legislation that would mandate employers pay for up to 30% of employees’ sick leave in order to avoid paying penalties and other costs, but that measure has been rejected by lawmakers.
Employers would also be required to provide workers with written training in the cost-benefit analysis of their decisions to take sick time and to reimburse them for any lost pay, said McEwen.
There are concerns that the bill could be used to justify higher wage and salary demands for employees, as workers have recently reported being paid less than they would otherwise.
According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, an advocacy group, there are currently nearly 1.6 million workers who have taken at least one sick leave over the last five years.
That study estimates that there are approximately 12.5 million working hours of unpaid sick and vacation leave taken by workers, and estimates that workers could be paid between $1.5 billion and $3.5 trillion in lost wages and benefits over the next five years if the bill becomes law.
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