Confronting the public health crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senate lead on the FAMILY Act, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), House lead on the FAMILY Act and Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) today called on President Trump to support including a comprehensive paid leave program in the potential fourth relief package. They were joined on a video conference call today by Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy at New America and Tom Colicchio, Chef and owner at Crafted Hospitality.
Under current exemptions and rules put out by the Trump administration millions of American workers were left without access to emergency paid leave provisions — including more than half of the private sector workforce, far too many low income workers, and nearly 15 million health care workers and emergency responders. As Congress and the administration begin negotiations on the next phase of coronavirus emergency response legislation, Gillibrand, DeLauro, and Pressley called for the inclusion of the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act) to eliminate these loopholes that severely limit eligibility.
“In the midst of a public health crisis, paid sick and family leave is more than common sense — it’s smart economic and public health policy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “When people can afford to stay home, they are less likely to become infected or to infect others. Working families are trusting us to protect them during this pandemic and it’s vital that full paid sick days and family and medical leave are provided in our next response package. The American people are demanding that their leaders take action and provide paid leave, and it’s time for the president and Congress to take action.”
“There has never been a more urgent need to expand paid sick days and paid leave to the workers of this country,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Businesses and schools have shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and people are fearful of how they and their families are going to make ends meet. Congress has the power to change that—and we should. I was disappointed that, in the second emergency package the Congress passed, the administration left out tens of millions of workers from access to meaningful paid sick days or longer term paid leave, including our frontline health care workers and first responders. Crises like this pandemic spare no one, and the protections should skip no one either. Through the PAID Leave Act, we can provide immediate economic security so no one falls through the cracks.”
“Before the COVID-19 crisis even began, nearly 40% of families were a $400-dollar emergency expense away from financial ruin. This crisis has only pushed those who were already struggling even further to the margins,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Many of our most vulnerable workers – our service workers, janitorial staff and tipped restaurant workers – are facing financial ruin due to the lack of paid leave and family leave. This unprecedented pandemic requires an unprecedented, wholistic federal government response that centers the humanity of all people which is why I’m proud to introduce the PAID Leave Act which will provide direct assistance to workers and families.”
“It’s a moral embarrassment and a serious public health problem that, even after congressional action extending paid sick time to some workers, millions of essential workers still cannot take paid sick time if they or a loved one start experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. As Congress crafts the next coronavirus response package, it must fill the gaps in our policies. All workers, particularly front line workers and those working for larger businesses, need access to extended paid family and medical leave for the duration of this pandemic. Looking ahead, it is time for this country to adopt permanent measures so that we are never in this situation again.” – Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy at New America
“This health and economic crisis is a body blow to millions of workers and small businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry. We need change, and this legislation is a great start to protect vulnerable workers and remove some of the burdens off the backs of their small business employers. Whether food security, small businesses in hospitality, or hourly workers, I will continue to push for policies that help hard working families get through this crisis.” – Tom Colicchio, Chef and Owner Crafted Hospitality
The United States is among the few developed countries that do not have a national paid sick days and paid family and medical leave policy. Over eight in ten working Americans lack access to comprehensive paid leave and too many have been forced to choose between a paycheck or caring for themselves or a loved one. Paid sick days and paid family and medical leave are critical to help ensure the economic security of working families and stymie the spread of coronavirus.
According to a March 2020 survey from the Glover Park Group, seven-in-ten Americans list the risk of getting sick, or losing friends or family, as a top concern during this crisis. An overwhelming majority see paid leave as an answer. More than half of the American people and a growing bipartisan consensus believe that all employers, especially the country’s biggest corporations, should offer emergency paid sick and family leave.
The PAID Leave Act would ensure that all workers— from gig workers, to independent contractors, to employees at large corporations — have emergency paid sick and family leave, providing every American with a safety net throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation would provide three months of personal or family medical leave, as well as leave for school closure or loss of childcare; expand the number of emergency sick days to 14; and allow employees to accrue up to 7 additional sick days. The program would be fully funded by the federal government during the coronavirus emergency and would provide a transition to a permanent national program that provides support to all workers going forward.
Full text of the letter to President Trump can be found here.