The Obama administration is making worker health and well-being a top priority in the U.S.

President Barack Obama yesterday urged Congress to adopt the Healthy Families Act, which would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave per year. He also signed a presidential memorandum directing federal agencies to allow up to six weeks of paid sick leave for employees with a new child; called on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees an additional six weeks of paid parental leave; and proposed funding to encourage states and municipalities to develop paid family and medical leave programs.

“Ensuring access to paid sick and family leave is vital to strengthening the well-being of our workers and their families, especially low-income workers who can least afford to get sick,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a news release. “Not only will it give workers more flexibility in caring for their families, but allowing sick workers to stay home will also help prevent the spread of disease and allow working families time to access preventive care.”

APHA fully supports these proposals, recognizing that the U.S. falls behind many other developed countries when it comes to providing paid family and medical leave, and is the only developed country that does not require employers to provide paid sick leave.

The Association is a strong supporter of the Healthy Families Act and has also adopted a position calling on Congress to pass legislation that would expand paid medical and family leave for U.S. workers. In August 2014, APHA signed on to a letter urging members of Congress to co-sponsor the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act of 2013, or FAMILY Act, which would create a national family and medical leave insurance program.