Sen. Bernie Sanders, on Thursday, outlined a family values agenda, a package of legislation to provide paid family and medical leave, paid sick leave and paid vacation.
“When you look at what other wealthy countries are doing, what you find is that the United States of America is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick time or paid vacation time. In other words, when it comes to basic workplace protections and family benefits, workers in every other major industrialized country in the world get a better deal than workers in the United States. That is wrong,” Sanders said.
“Last place is no place for America. It is time to join the rest of the industrialized world by showing the people of this country that we are not just a nation that talks about family values but that we are a nation that is prepared to live up to these ideals,” he added.
Speaking at a Capitol news conference, Sanders announced the introduction of the Guaranteed Paid Vacation Act, a bill that would provide 10 days of paid vacation for employees who have worked for an employer for at least one year. A recent study by Oxford Economics found benefits of taking time off from work include higher productivity, greater employee retention, increased workplace morale, significant health benefits and a boost to the economy.
Additionally, Sanders called for 12 weeks of paid leave if an employee has a child, is diagnosed with cancer or any other serious medical condition. “Simply stated it is an outrage that millions of women in this country give birth and then are forced back to work because they don’t have the income to stay home with their newborn babies.” Sanders co-sponsored the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, a bill by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
Sanders also said that every worker should be guaranteed at least seven paid sick days. The Healthy Families Act by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) accomplishes that goal by providing workers with up to seven days of paid sick leave per year to be used for short-term illness, routine medical care, or care for a sick family member.
Taken together, the three proposals would be a major step forward in providing workers with access to paid family leave, sick time and vacation time.
Read a factsheet on the Family Values Agenda here.
Read Sanders’ statement here.
Read the Guaranteed Paid Vacation Act here.