As H1N1 spreads nationwide, some congressional lawmakers are making the pandemic political and advocating for a national paid sick leave policy. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) last week introduced legislation that would require employers to pay for up to five days’ sick leave if this send workers home with H1N1.

In all the hubbub over H.R. 3962, I haven’t heard much from my Hill moles about whether or not this bill has any support. All the same, employers – naturally – are pushing back. In testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families, Elissa O'Brien, SPHR, VP of human resources for Wingate Healthcare, testified on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management and urged Congress to consider alternative approaches to policies governing workplace leave that reflect the needs of today's workforce.

"We believe most employers and HR professionals are responding appropriately and proactively during this national emergency, either through paid time off, or by relaxing attendance or absenteeism policies, allowing more alternative schedules, and promoting telecommuting," she testified.

"It is clear that the H1N1 pandemic presents extreme challenges to business, government and nonprofit organizations of all types. SHRM and its members are focused on keeping their workforces as safe and healthy as possible and keeping their businesses running until this public health threat has run its course. In the meantime, we caution against rushing to impose new mandates that will do more harm than good," O'Brien concluded.

What do you think, pros? Is Miller trying to politicize the H1N1 outbreak to the detriment of businesses? Or, in the wake of the epidemic, are you leaning more in favor of a national sick leave policy?

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