This Thanksgiving is sure to be an unconventional one, as families navigate staying safe during a spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. But when it comes to the demand for turkey on our plates, it’s business as usual—so we must keep fighting for the workers who process our food, who are denied the opportunity to care for their own health and their loved ones without jeopardizing their income.
¿Eres un trabajador en el Estado de Nueva York afectado por COVID-19? Si es así, usted podría ser elegible para tomar licencia por enfermedad de emergencia bajo la ley federal Familias Primero de Respuesta al Coronavirus o la ley de Licencia por Enfermedad de Emergencia del Estado de Nueva York. La ley de Familias Primero de Respuesta al Coronavirus (FFCRA, por sus siglas en inglés) otorga 80 horas de licencia pagada por enfermedad, para toda serie de propósitos relacionados con el coronavirus, a empleados a tiempo completo (y una cantidad de tiempo prorrateado a empleados a tiempo parcial).
La Ley de Días Pagados de Enfermedad y Seguridad de la Ciudad de Nueva York (“ESSTA” por sus siglas en inglés) le otorga a trabajadores tiempo de enfermedad que puede ser usado para recuperar de una enfermedad o lesión física/mental; buscar un diagnóstico médico, tratamiento o cuidado preventivo; cuidar de un miembro familiar quien esté enfermo o necesite un diagnóstico médico, tratamiento o cuidado preventivo; cuando el lugar de trabajo del trabajador esté cerrado por orden de un oficial público debido a una emergencia pública de salud o cuidar de un niño si su escuela o proveedor de cuidado ha sido cerrado por orden de un funcionario público debido a una emergencia pública de salud; o para atender ciertas necesidades no médicas que puedan surgir si el trabajador o un miembro familiar es una víctima de violencia doméstica, acoso sexual, acecho o trata de personas.
Recently, New York City’s landmark paid sick time law, the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA), was amended so that workers have even more rights under the law. A Better Balance was proud to help draft and negotiate the law when it originally passed in 2013, and we were proud to have helped improve the law—including testifying before the New York City Council—through these recent amendments. The changes in NYC’s ESSTA reflect necessary updates to align with New York State’s sick time law, which will provide workers throughout the state with sick time they can use starting January 1, 2021 but also contains many additional helpful clarifications that will help workers throughout New York City.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic took root in the U.S. in March, federal, state, and local officials have sought to enact legislative solutions to help the nation through this unfathomable crisis. A Better Balance has been working at every level of government to advance policies, including COVID-19 emergency paid leave laws, to ensure that workers aren’t forced to choose—during a pandemic and national crisis—between their personal or family health and their jobs. Around the country, momentum continues to grow for emergency paid sick leave, and we’re proud to share a number of new victories.
There are so many important questions that Presidential debate moderators should ask candidates in 2020. Chief among them must be questions centered on how to advance justice so workers can care for themselves and their loved ones, without jeopardizing their economic security. Chris Wallace, the moderator for the first Presidential Debate on September 29th, has already announced several topics including COVID-19, the economy, the Supreme Court, and race relations in America. Many of these issues directly intersect with the needs of working families and their economic security—and we urge prioritizing the following 5 key questions.
In March, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), a new federal law providing emergency paid leave to covered workers for certain COVID-related purposes. Last month, in response to an action by the New York Attorney General’s office, the Southern District of New York issued a decision striking down several elements of the US Department of Labor’s regulations issued under the FFCRA. Recently, the Department of Labor issued new revised regulations, which make several changes in response to the court’s decision, along with corresponding updates to the frequently asked questions. These new regulations will become effective immediately upon their formal publication in the Federal Register, expected to occur on February 16.
In early March as COVID-19 was just beginning to spread in the U.S., we listed the 7 states and 11 cities and counties that give workers access to paid sick time that can be used when their workplace or child’s school or place of care is closed for a public health emergency. Since then, and as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, an increasing number of jurisdictions have enacted emergency paid sick time laws. A Better Balance is tracking these emergency sick time developments nationwide.
As the pandemic continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of workers across the country, we must take action. Congress must pass the HEROES Act and enact a strong federal paid leave program for all workers and their families. So before the August recess, ask your U.S. Senators to pass the HEROES Act—and spread the word! As proud leading members of the Paid Leave for All campaign, we urge everyone to take action this week so we can work together towards paid leave for all working people.
Our new publication, Families First: Workers' Voices During the Pandemic, features the narratives of dozens of workers we've spoken with through our free legal helpline who are struggling to protect their health, care for their families, and stay afloat economically during these unprecedented times. Featured within are stories from workers across 26 states, many of whom have been unable to access emergency leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) due to significant loopholes in the law, and are left with little recourse to avoid jeopardizing their health or their economic security.