By Mitzi Wyrick
Emergency temporary legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would require employers to provide up to five days of paid time off to workers who are sent home because they are sick. Employers would not be required to pay employees who stay home voluntarily, but employers would be required to pay employees who are sent home. As currently drafted, the Emergency Influenza Containment Act guarantees a sick worker up to five paid sick leave days a year if an employer ‘directs’ or ‘advises’ a sick employee to stay home or go home. This law would cover the H1N1 flu virus as well as other infectious diseases and would be in effect for two years after passage. The legislation covers both full-time and part-time workers (on a pro-rated basis) in businesses with 15 or more workers, but employers that already provide at least 5 days’ paid sick leave are exempt. Employees who follow their employer’s direction to stay home because of contagious illness cannot be fired, disciplined or be subject to retaliation. A committee hearing is expected to be held on this legislation during the week of November 16th.