03.09.20

In Response to Coronavirus, Baldwin Helps Introduce New Emergency Paid Sick Leave Legislation

New bill would immediately require employers to provide workers with 14 days of paid sick leave to be used during a public health emergency, including current crisis 

Outside of public health emergencies, legislation requires employers to provide seven days of accrued sick leave, building off Healthy Families Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), joined her colleagues in introducing 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.

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. This emergency paid sick days legislation, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, 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.

“As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, we should help ensure workers can take paid sick leave to protect themselves, their co-workers and their families,” said Senator Baldwin. “No worker should have to choose between protecting their health, or paying their bills. We need to pass this legislation right now to give our workers the resources they need to care for themselves and keep our communities safe from this public health threat.”

“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.”

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. This legislation 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.

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 a public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.

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