Paid sick and family leave is “smart economic and public health policy,” the senator said

Millions of American workers were left without access to emergency paid leave under the current federal relief package for COVID-19, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Thursday. Those workers include more than half of the private sector workforce, many low-income workers, and nearly 15 million health care workers and emergency responders, the senator said.

Gillibrand and fellow Democrats, U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, called on President Donald Trump to support a comprehensive paid leave program — the PAID Leave Act — in the upcoming relief package.

“In the midst of a public health crisis, paid sick and family leave is more than common sense — it’s smart economic and public health policy,” stated Gillibrand in a release. “When people can afford to stay home, they are less likely to become infected or to infect others. Working families are trusting us to protect them during this pandemic and it’s vital that full paid sick days and family and medical leave are provided in our next response package.

“The American people are demanding that their leaders take action and provide paid leave, and it’s time for the president and Congress to take action,” she said.

Inclusion of the PAID Leave Act, standing for "Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave," would “ensure that all workers — from gig workers, to independent contractors, to employees at large corporations — have emergency paid sick and family leave, providing every American with a safety net throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” stated the release that followed a teleconference Thursday about the legislation.

The PAID Leave Act would provide three months of personal or family medical leave, as well as leave for school closure or loss of childcare; expand the number of emergency sick days to 14; and allow employees to accrue up to seven additional sick days. The program would be fully funded by the federal government during the coronavirus emergency and would provide a transition to a permanent national program that provides support to all workers going forward.

The United States is among the few developed countries that do not have a national policy for paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. According to a March 2020 survey from the Glover Park Group, seven in 10 Americans list the risk of getting sick, or losing friends or family, as a top concern during this pandemic, stated the release: “An overwhelming majority see paid leave as an answer. More than half of the American people and a growing bipartisan consensus believe that all employers, especially the country's biggest corporations, should offer emergency paid sick and family leave.”