The last few weeks have brought mixed news about court challenges to paid sick leave laws in Minnesota and Texas. To start with the good news: the Supreme Court of Minnesota handed down a decision on June 10, 2020 upholding Minneapolis’s paid sick leave ordinance, which was first enacted in 2017. The Court first held that the ordinance did not conflict with state law and affirmed the ability of localities in Minnesota to pass paid sick time laws.
In early April, New York State enacted an emergency paid sick leave law that allows workers with a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation in relation to COVID-19 (or who need to care for a minor child with such an order) to take paid leave from work. Since its passage, the law has exempted workers who were subject to quarantine because they traveled to certain countries for non-work-related reasons from the law’s protections. And recently, the law was changed to exempt certain workers who travel within the United States.
Today, we honor the millions of men in this country who care for children, and the millions more who provide care for an older family member or sick loved one. For dads and caregivers like Jeffrey everywhere, now more than ever, knowing their rights is critical. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act covers many workers with paid sick leave to care for themselves and their loved ones when affected by the coronavirus, as well as paid family leave for use when a child’s school or place of care is closed.
On June 15, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB 205, which will guarantee that workers across the state can earn a modest amount of paid sick leave. The bill will allow workers to care for themselves or a family member when sick or experiencing domestic abuse or sexual assault. Colorado joins 12 states, Washington D.C., and dozens of cities in establishing a basic legal right to paid sick time.
The FFCRA's groundbreaking paid leave provisions provide essential protections to millions of workers, but a combination of statutory and regulatory exceptions potentially leave out as many as 106 million employees nationwide. For precarious workers who too often fall through the cracks of workplace protections, like temporary, part-time, and domestic workers, the law represents an unprecedented breakthrough with some significant and challenging gaps.
Today marks a historic victory for workers and local democracy in the Twin Cities: Minnesota’s Supreme Court —the highest court in the state—affirmed the city’s authority to give workers the opportunity to earn paid sick time. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that workers are able to take time off to care for their health and that of their loved ones without losing wages, which is exactly what the paid sick time law allows for.
Especially as governments lift stay at home orders, it is important for workers to know their rights. We have released a series of videos from our legal experts to help workers understand their rights when affected by COVID-19, so they will be empowered to exercise them. Please join us in sharing these videos with the hashtag #JusticeForWorkers.
The Metropolitan Council of Nashville, TN recently passed a resolution urging all employers in the city to provide immediate paid sick leave to their workers. The resolution further calls on Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to restore legal authority for local governments to decide whether to guarantee paid leave within their cities.
A Better Balance applauds the release of the HEROES Act, a bold proposal to expand and build upon the groundbreaking paid leave protections of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. We thank Speaker Pelosi and champions in the House for their leadership on this crucial issue.
Knowledge is power! Our legal experts have put together three new know-your-rights FAQs for workers who are affected by COVID-19, addressing paid sick leave, pregnancy, and more. We are working to ensure all workers and families have the protections they need under the law, both during this crisis and beyond. If you have questions about your legal rights, contact our free legal helpline.