Biden Would Ensure that 'Every Worker Had...Up to 14 Weeks' Paid Sick Leave'

By Susan Jones | March 30, 2020 | 10:04am EDT
Former Vice President and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Vice President and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

( - How does 14 weeks of paid sick leave sound?

That's what former Vice President Joe Biden promised at a CNN town hall on March 27:

A woman asked Biden (who was speaking from his basement TV studio): "If elected as our next president, what dollar amount will you set as our new national living wage? And what will you do to ensure that every worker has paid sick leave?"

Biden responded:

"Well, number one, I would ensure every worker had paid sick leave, period, and across the board. And it should be up to 14 weeks' paid sick leave."

Fourteen weeks is far more than most workers get right now.

According to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In March 2018, 71 percent of workers in private industry had paid sick leave benefits. About 6 in 10 of those workers received a fixed number of sick leave days each year. Four percent could use sick days as needed, and the rest were in consolidated leave plans, which provide time off for workers to use for a variety of purposes. Among those who received a fixed number of sick leave days, the amount varied depending on the employee’s length of service and the size of the establishment.

On average, workers in private industry received 7 days of sick leave per year at 1 year of service. The average also was 7 days at 5 and 10 years of service and 8 sick days per year at 20 years of service. Employees in smaller establishments received fewer paid sick days, on average, than employees in establishments with 500 workers or more.

Biden, at the CNN town hall, also endorsed expanded childcare for workers who need it. That was his "number two."

"Number three," Biden said, "the national minimum wage should be $15, but that's not nearly enough. What we should be doing is making sure that we invest the kind of money that is going to be needed as we rebuild the economy into dealing with the -- for example, re-imagining our infrastructure in this country.

"At the same time, we can be dealing with a lack of wage availability, a fair -- a decent wage, and dealing with global warming. And we can do it by -- I have a program to invest a trillion dollars in both transportation and infrastructure. We can do that, provide good-paying jobs for people who are -- can make $35, $40 an hour and benefits," Biden continued.

"And, thirdly, we should make sure that we, in fact, make unions more easy -- easier to unionize, and take on those companies that spend about a billion dollars a year now trying to prevent people from being able to unionize and taking actions that prevents them from being able to do that.

"That's not directly related to the virus, but it's related to a living wage. It's related to people being able to compete. And it's related to people being able to make a decent wage where they can raise a family."


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