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PTO TBD: Healthy Families Act Would Make Workplaces ‘Keep Pace’

According to a LinkedIn announcement made last Wednesday, President Barack Obama will call upon Congress today to pass the Healthy Families Act. This bill would require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave per year.

Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior adviser, made the announcement in a post on LinkedIn. Jarrett said that LinkedIn was the best platform to enact change, given the website’s audience of business professionals.

And change is the act’s ultimate goal.

“As our workforce and families have continued to evolve over time, too many of our workplaces have failed to keep pace,” Jarrett told reporters. With this legislative proposal, workplaces are forced to keep pace with the demands of the 21st-century workforce.

Studies show that both employers and employees alike achieve significant benefits from the latter group taking paid time off (PTO). Employees return from PTO more productive, focused and dedicated; they feel less stressed, with notable improvements to their overall health and happiness. According to Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation study, 45 percent of employees come back to work feeling rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life, while 35 percent feel better about their job and more productive.

Despite these findings, the United States remains one of the few industrialized countries that does not require employee PTO by law. The Healthy Families Act aims to change that.

The Healthy Families Act is modeled on a bill first introduced in 2005 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that applied to companies employing 15 or more workers. At these workplaces, employees would earn one hour of PTO for every 30 hours worked.

Should Congress take the president’s advice, businesses should be ready, as the act would affect some benefits plans.