Here’s The First City To Heed Obama’s Call To Pass Paid Sick Leave

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On Tuesday, the city council of Tacoma, WA passed paid sick leave on an eight-to-one vote.

The leave is modest, requiring businesses to offer just three paid days off for illness a year, but it will rise to five days in the employee’s second year of employment. The leave can also be used by the victims of stalking and domestic violence. It will take effect in February of next year.

Tacoma is the first place to pass a paid-sick-days law after President Obama highlighted the issue. Ahead of his State of the Union and in the address itself, Obama called on Congress to pass legislation that would give all Americans access to a paid day off if they or their family members got sick. But barring that, he called on cities and states to pass their own laws.

And progress at the city and state level has been rapid. Tacoma is now the 16th city to pass paid sick leave, and three states — Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts — have done the same.


CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

Comparing those figures to just 2013 shows how quickly the idea has caught on. As of the end of 2013, just one state and six cities had such legislation.

More are likely to come this year. Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are all considering bills, while lawmakers in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Jersey are expected to take it up this year as well. A bill is also being considered in Philadelphia, PA.

Even with that progress, many Americans don’t have access to paid sick leave. The United States is the only developed country without a national requirement, and that leaves nearly 40 percent of Americans without the benefit.