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CORONAVIRUS: Murray, DeLauro Introduce New Emergency Paid Sick Days Legislation

March 6, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – (December 6, 2020) Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, introduced new, emergency paid sick leave legislation, building off the Healthy Families Act (HFA), to provide paid sick days immediately to workers in light of the coronavirus crisis, and in preparation for future public health emergencies.

This emergency paid sick days legislation requires all employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.

Currently, there are confirmed coronavirus cases in more than 18 states. The virus has caused 12 deaths, with 11 of those in Washington state. The outbreak has led both Washington state and California to declare states of emergency, and has prompted many schools to close and businesses to recommend workers stay at home. Twenty-seven percent of private sector workers don’t have paid sick days and will go without pay if they can’t show up at work.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines advise people to stay home if they are sick. However, for many workers—including many restaurant workers, truck drivers, people in the service industry, and more—staying home from work means losing a paycheck or losing your job. Senator Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s bill won’t just ensure workers’ can take care of themselves and their families, it will also ensure that workers can help keep their communities safe.

“The coronavirus is highly contagious and the problem isn’t going away anytime soon,” said Senator Murray. “Workers want to do the right thing for themselves, their families, and their communities—so especially in the middle of public health crises like this, staying home sick shouldn’t have to mean losing a paycheck or a job. This bill would immediately give workers the ability to care for themselves, their families, and help keep their communities safe.  We need to pass it without delay.”

“The lack of paid sick days could make coronavirus harder to contain in the United States compared with other countries that have universal sick leave policies in place,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “No one should face the impossible choice of caring for their health or keeping their paycheck or job, especially when a sudden public health crisis occurs. But millions of hard-working people must make this decision every time they get sick or a family member needs care. Low-income workers and their families could be hit even harder by the virus, as low wage jobs are at the forefront of not providing sick leave benefits.  That is why I am proud to sponsor this effort with Senator Murray to ensure that workers are able to follow the directive of public health officials and stay home without the fear of losing their paycheck.”

Specifically this bill would:

  • Require all employers to allow workers to gradually earn seven days of paid sick leave.
  • Require all employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.
  • Ensure paid sick leave covers days when your child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency, when your employer is closed due to public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.

While both lawmakers have long pressed for paid sick leave, first introducing their Healthy Families Act (HFA) in 2004 and reintroducing every Congress since, the continued community transmission of coronavirus has highlighted the urgent need to pass paid sick leave legislation immediately.

The legislation has been endorsed by: National Partnership for Women and Families, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for American Progress (CAP).

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