Lawmakers Recognize Urgent Need for Paid Sick Days in Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak

By Hannah Matthews 

Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act to take action on behalf of the more than 32 million workers who don’t have any paid sick days. The legislation builds on the Healthy Families Act, previously introduced in the House and Senate.

The current coronavirus public health emergency has exposed a perilous reality for low-wage workers. As public health experts encourage individuals to stay home from work if they feel sick, workers who earn low wages are the least likely to have jobs with paid sick days, which means they can least afford to take unpaid leave. For many workers without paid sick days—disproportionately Latinx workers—taking unpaid sick time can lead to economic instability, forgone wages, and even job loss.

Today’s legislation would ensure that all employers allow their employees to earn seven days of paid sick days annually, as well as an additional 14 days of paid sick leave that would be immediately available at the beginning of a public health emergency without requiring an employee to earn or accrue leave. In addition to covering one’s own illness or the illness of a family member, the bill will allow the use of paid sick leave if an employer or a child’s school or child care is closed for a public health emergency or if an individual or family member needing care is quarantined due to exposure linked to a public health emergency.

CLASP endorses the bill and urges Congress to act swiftly to ensure that all workers have the same ability to stay home when they or a loved one is sick and don’t have to risk their economic stability to stay safe and well during the present health emergency.