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January 13, 2021

Pressley, DeLauro, Gillibrand, and Murray Call On Biden Administration and Congressional Leadership To Extend and Expand Emergency Paid Leave Provisions

Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter urging the incoming Biden administration and congressional leadership to extend and expand the COVID-19 emergency paid leave provisions that expired at the end of last year.

The bipartisan paid leave sick day and family leave provisions passed under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are critical to the public health response and economic recovery. Despite excluding many workers, previous provisions gave an estimated 22 million workers nationwide the ability to stay home when sick, helping to slow the spread of coronavirus. The provisions also prevented workers from having to choose between their paycheck or their health when they needed to stay home to care for themselves or a loved one. As coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country, Pressley, DeLauro, Gillibrand, and Murray are fighting to include emergency paid leave provisions in the next coronavirus relief package that would close previous loopholes that left out millions of workers and provide all employees with 14 emergency paid sick days and 12 weeks emergency paid family and medical leave.

“As your incoming administration and Congress outline new plans to fully respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, we urge you to reinstate the emergency COVID paid leave that expired at the end of last year,” wrote the lawmakers. “The United States is among the few developed countries that do not have a national paid sick days and paid family and medical leave policy. Over eight in ten working Americans lack access to comprehensive paid leave. The dire effects have never been more pronounced than they are now. We need people who are sick to be able to afford to stay home in order to curb the spread of the virus, and to keep their jobs to stem the tide of job loss.”

The lawmakers continued, “The success of the emergency paid leave program can easily be increased in scale by closing the loopholes – including those for the largest corporations in the world – that left 75% of workers unable to access emergency leave. If we don’t extend emergency paid leave to all workers and towards a permanent national paid leave program, even more working parents will be forced, once again, to make impossible choices between caring for their family and earning a paycheck.”

Recent data on job loss revealed that employers cut 140,000 jobs in December — and each of those jobs lost belonged to a woman. In particular, Black women and Latinas lost their jobs, while White women made significant gains. These women of color not only work in some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy, they are also more likely to be employed in roles that lack paid sick leave and the ability to work from home. Without emergency paid sick leave, more women of color are at risk of losing their livelihoods.

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