Using the H1N1 pandemic as a selling point for mandating sick leave at work, Department of Labor spokespersons have been testifying in the Senate this week in support of the Healthy Families Act.

The proposed bill would require employers to let employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at 56 hours, or seven days. The bill would also allow employers (naturally) to be more generous and offer greater paid sick leave packages.

The Healthy Families Act is currently being weighed by the Subcommittee on Children and Families in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris argued that many sick workers to go to work and many working parents send sick children to school because they have no paid sick leave. He said such a system poses a threat to public health, the nation’s economic future and a social system that depends heavily on people caring for themselves and their family members.

Currently, only San Francisco and the District of Columbia have paid sick leave mandates. Milwaukee voters passed one in November 2008, but instantly under legal challenge, it was later ruled unconstitutional by a judge.