We applaud President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris for recognizing that in this crisis, every worker needs paid leave. Not only would the proposed American Rescue Plan restore the federal emergency paid leave law that expired at the end of the 2020—the plan would close gaps in the law that left many workers uncovered, extending paid leave to all workers across the country who need to care for themselves and their loved ones when affected by COVID-19. This proposal is a huge step in the right direction of enacting a bold, truly transformative policy agenda that supports working families and values the work of care.
As we highlighted in our report, “Save Families First: Workers’ Voices & the Need for Action,” A Better Balance has been hearing through our free legal helpline from workers across the country for whom, when they or a loved one are sick with COVID-19, access to emergency paid leave made the difference between losing a job and staying attached to the workforce when they need income the most. On the flip side, those workers who were excluded from this critical protection have been left with little recourse. In recent months, we have seen millions of women pushed out of the workplace without an adequate infrastructure of support for caregiving, with especially harsh consequences for women of color—marking the beginning of a devastating setback for gender and racial equality in our nation. We must listen to these workers’ voices and reverse this devastating course. With the paid leave plan proposed in the American Rescue Act and a continued commitment to valuing care in our society from our new Administration and the 117th Congress, we can start to reverse this devastating course.