The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
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Washington, D.C., February 12, 2015 – In response to today’s introduction of the Healthy Families Act in Congress, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome the introduction of the Healthy Families Act earlier today and applaud Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro’s commitment to ensuring paid sick leave for American workers.
The Healthy Families Act would set a national paid sick days standard, allowing millions of workers to earn paid sick days. Under this legislation, workers in businesses with fifteen or more employees could earn up to seven job protected paid sick days each year. Workers could recover from their own illnesses, access preventative care, or help an ill family member. Workers who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking could use this time to recover or seek assistance. The bill makes all of this possible for workers and allows them to take this much needed time without fear of losing their jobs and vital incomes.
Our Jewish tradition tells us that “one who withholds an employee’s wages is as though he deprived him of his life” (Baba Metzia 112a). Forcing workers to choose between taking care of their health or maintaining a job unfairly denies them the opportunity to earn their own wages. No one should have to make the wrenching decision to choose between taking care of themselves or their family and protecting their job and livelihood.
For too long, the U.S. has lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to paid sick leave. Nearly every country in Europe ensures such leave, and in U.S. communities like San Francisco that have implemented paid sick days, the results for workers and employers have been positive. Paid sick days allow workers to be healthier, make our workplaces more productive, and strengthen families. They are especially important to women who are over-represented in low-wage jobs yet are also most likely to act as the family’s primary caregiver.
Jewish tradition teaches us that employers and employees have a common interest in workers’ health and a mutual obligation to secure the wellness of the labor force. No one wants or plans on illness, but the Healthy Families Act will help ensure that employees and employers are protected when those unexpected events occur.
We look forward to working with Members of Congress to achieve the bill’s swift enactment.
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