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. Workers like Tatiana*, a mammography technologist at a hospital in Florida, who experienced COVID-19 symptoms and was sent home on unpaid leave while she awaited her test results. She was forced back to work just 11 days later, and received her positive test result 3 days after returning to work. She is unable to get paid under the FFCRA, because of exemptions in the law that leave many workers uncovered.
Conversely, for the workers who are covered — who often were not aware of their rights prior to calling us — these protections have been critical. Stephanie, a worker for the city of Huntsville, Alabama, was able to take emergency sick time and family leave to care for her son who needed to quarantine after sharing information about the law with her employer. Because of the FFCRA, she was able to maintain her income and benefits when she and her family needed them the most.
As demonstrated by so many of these workers’ powerful stories, Congress must act to enact paid leave for all workers in the next relief package.