With the rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), schools and businesses across the globe have closed their doors with the hope that keeping children and workers at home will help contain the outbreak. It is is very possible that schools and businesses in the U.S. will close in the coming weeks. Fortunately for workers in certain jurisdictions, they are eligible for paid sick time when their workplace or child’s school or place of care is closed for a public health emergency.
Eleven states guarantee paid sick time for yourself or to stay home with a sick family member: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State, as well as D.C. Dozens of localities also guarantee paid sick time, including New York City, Westchester County, and several cities in California and Washington State—all areas highly affected by Coronavirus.
As the U.S. gears up to fight the spread of the Coronavirus, the CDC is advising that Americans, when sick, should not go to work or school. But the sobering reality is that for tens of millions of workers across the U.S.—especially those who are juggling caring for a family—taking a single sick day could mean being unable to afford basic necessities, or even losing a job.
We were honored to be invited by the Tennessee Senate Health & Welfare Committee to present data on the health benefits of providing pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations, when needed. We were joined by our partners at the March of Dimes, who highlighted Tennessee’s high preterm birth rate and persistent racial disparities. Together, we made the public health case for the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
As 2020 ushers in a new decade, it brings with it many changes to paid family and medical leave laws throughout the U.S.—a cause for celebration for workers and their families. Washington State’s paid family and medical leave program officially went live on January 1. Workers can now receive benefits for up to 12 weeks for medical leave or family leave, up to a total of 16 weeks of benefits in a 52-week period. Nearly all employees in the state are covered, including both public and private sector workers, and self-employed workers can opt in to coverage.
Since 2015, we've worked closely with advocates and lawmakers to push for a comprehensive paid family & medical leave program in Tennessee. On Wednesday, we joined State Representative Gloria Johnson in Knoxville to announce the Tennessee Family Insurance Act, a bill to grant paid family and medical leave to all workers in the state. Under this proposal, employees would contribute a small amount each month to a paid family and medical leave insurance fund.
The proposed Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards (“COMPS”) Order would expand coverage to many workers who were previously excluded, including individuals employed in construction and manufacturing. The proposed rule will also set a salary threshold for overtime at $42,500 and adjust it up to $57,500 by 2026, ensuring that many more low-wage workers are entitled to overtime.
This weekend, Oregon passed a robust and inclusive paid family & medical leave law, becoming the ninth state to do so nationwide. The law will provide up to 12 weeks of income to those who need to take time off work to recover from a serious health condition, care for a seriously ill loved one, or welcome a new child, with an additional two weeks of leave available for pregnancy-related complications.
Besides improving the well-being of thousands of working families in CT and ME, it’s laws like these that help pave the way for eventual federal solutions. These victories are both huge steps forward in our continuing effort to ensure that all workers can take time to care for themselves and their families without risking their economic security.
Our Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst, who joined the Governor at the dais, spoke about the need to modernize New York’s pay equity laws by passing the salary history ban and extending wage discrimination protections to all protected classes.