Everyone deserves time to deal with an illness and injury, to welcome a new child, or to help a loved one recover, without having to worry about losing their job or risking their paycheck. The need for paid leave for all is stronger than ever as the country continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic. We join Paid Leave for All in a week of action to urge Congress to close the loopholes in emergency paid leave, and pass the HEROES Act before the Senate’s August recess.
When the coronavirus hit the United States, over 33 million workers did not have access to a single paid sick day. Although Congress passed emergency paid leave for many people through the historic Families First Coronavirus Response Act, it is temporary and limited, leaving out as many as 106 million workers—many of whom are essential workers and low wage workers, with a disproportionate impact on people of color and women. So many workers excluded from the FFCRA have already faced economic insecurity and struggled to care for themselves and their loved ones. Katherine*, a healthcare worker at a nursing home in Florida, was forced to quarantine for 14 days after she started suffering from COVID-19 symptoms. Since she is a healthcare worker, her employer was not required to provide her with emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA. She received no pay from her employer during this time, leaving her scared for her health and her financial wellbeing. Katherine (*name changed to protect confidentiality) is just one of the many workers we’ve heard from through our free legal helpline, who have faced hardship due to being excluded from the FFCRA.
If passed, the HEROES Act would close loopholes in the existing law that exclude these millions of America’s workers. The law would expand coverage to employees of businesses with more than 500 employees and to healthcare workers, emergency responders, and small business employees left out or under-protected under current law. In addition, the HEROES Act would expand paid leave protections under the law by providing extended paid leave for a broader range of purposes, covering additional health and caregiving needs, and extending emergency paid leave provisions through 2021.
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.