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April 3, 2020

Rep. Pressley & Rep. DeLauro Introduce Bicameral Emergency Paid Leave Legislation In Response to Worsening COVID-19 Crisis

WASHINGTON –  Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, along with U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act). The PAID Leave Act is a comprehensive emergency paid sick, paid family and medical leave bill—fully funded by the federal government during emergency outbreaks—to provide additional financial support to our nation’s most vulnerable workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies.

“Before the COVID-19 crisis even began, nearly 40% of families were a $400-dollar emergency expense away from financial ruin. This crisis has only pushed those who were already struggling even further to the margins,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Many of our most vulnerable workers – our service workers, janitorial staff and tipped restaurant workers – are facing financial ruin due to the lack of paid leave and family leave.  This unprecedented pandemic requires an unprecedented, wholistic federal government response that centers the humanity of all people which is why I’m proud to introduce the PAID Leave Act which will provide direct assistance to workers and families.”

“There has never been a more urgent need to expand paid sick days and paid leave to the workers of this country,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “As businesses and schools shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, people are fearful of how they and their families are going to make ends meet. Congress has the power to change that—and we should. I am disappointed that, in Congress’s latest coronavirus response bill, the administration has left out tens of millions of workers from access to meaningful paid sick days or longer term paid leave, including our frontline health care workers and first responders. Through this new legislation, we can provide immediate economic security so no one falls through the cracks.”

“I’m hearing from workers who urgently need to have the ability to stay home without losing a pay check or their job, and I’m hearing from businesses in Washington state and nationwide who care deeply about seeing their employees through these hard times but just don’t have the cash flow,” said Senator Murray. “Our legislation will ensure all workers have paid sick leave while protecting small businesses that are suddenly finding themselves struggling. This is good for workers, businesses, and critically, it will help slow the spread of the coronavirus. We should get it to the President’s desk as quickly as possible.”

“Across New York State and the country, schools are closing and businesses are shutting their doors as we face this unprecedented crisis. This public health emergency has exposed the weakness of our system—we are not doing nearly enough to help working families handle medical emergencies and the financial burdens they cause. The PAID Leave Act ensures that every worker in America has full paid sick and family leave, strengthens their financial footing, and paves the way for America’s first universal paid family leave policy. Congress must pass this legislation immediate and give workers the security and confidence needed to confront this crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand.

“The healthcare workers of 1199SEIU applaud U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley for advocating for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave coverage of all workers with the P.A.I.D. Leave Act,” said Tim Foley, 1199SEIU Massachusetts Executive Vice President. “Every day, the women and men who work in our healthcare system show up to save lives and fight the spread of the coronavirus. Every day, caregivers leave behind their own families, and brush aside fear and anxiety to care for others. We are essential. However, being essential should not disqualify healthcare workers from caring for themselves and their family during this time. 1199SEIU caregivers continue to do our part to stop the spread of the virus and continue to provide care within our communities and we urge Congress to do their part in protecting us.”

The PAID Leave Act will fully and quickly reimburse employers for all paid sick days and paid leave in 2020 and 2021 to alleviate the financial ramifications of the pandemic felt by the small business community. In order to ensure that business do no need to wait for tax credits, the bill will only require employers to provide documentation to the Department of Labor (DOL) to demonstrate they paid out sick days or leave in order to receive reimbursement. After 2021, the bill would allow workers to accrue seven paid sick days and establish a self-sustaining family and medical leave insurance program for all workers.

For all employees and independent contractors, this bill would:

  1. Provide 14 emergency paid sick days in the event of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis, reimbursed in full by the federal government.
  2. Provide workers with 12 weeks emergency paid family and medical leave, fully reimbursed by the federal government.
  3. Permanently ensure workers can accrue 7 paid sick days.
  4. Permanently enact a paid family and medical leave program (Senator Gillibrand’s and Representative DeLauro’s FAMILY Act).

The bill is being endorsed by: National Partnership for Women and Families, CLASP, Family Values at Work, Paid Leave for All, Center for American Progress, American Federation of Teachers.