National sick leave policies needed now more than ever

Posted Mar. 12, 2020 by

UPDATE: Senate leaders block quick passage of paid sick leave bill

Senator Sherrod Brown: “I’m angry on behalf of millions of Ohioans and Americans who are scared right now," Brown said. "One of the most important things we can do to stop the spread is pass paid sick leave today.” Read more.

The Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act, sick leave legislation, has been introduced in Congress to require employers to provide an additional 14 days immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus.The bill would also require employers to allow workers to generally accrue seven days of paid sick leave, building off the Healthy Families Act.

The legislation was introduced under the leadership of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn). National sick leave policies, especially in times of emergency, are needed to give workers the tools they need to make the best decisions to help keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy.

Movement toward adequate sick leave policies will be a true litmus test of the nation amidst the growing crisis. “No one should face the impossible choice of caring for their health or keeping their paycheck or job,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. Read more on the legislation by co-sponsors.

In Ohio, there is no law that requires private sector employers to provide employees with paid or unpaid sick leave, although many employers do provide it as an important employee benefit. House Democratic lawmakers urged the Ohio governor this week to create a temporary paid sick leave program to lessen the impact a coronavirus outbreak could have on the state.

The workers most likely to stay home are those who already have jobs with paid time off and/or telecommuting privileges. The most vulnerable workers are those earning the minimum wage, largely in the service sector, with a great deal of interaction with the public.