Kaine introduces bill to give American workers paid sick leave


Staff prepares to telework in case of office shutdown because of coronavirus

WASHINGTON (WFXR) — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) says workers risk infecting others with coronavirus and other germs because they do not have guaranteed sick leave. He has introduced a bill to fix that.

Kaine’s bill, S. 3415, would allow American workers to earn up to seven sick days per year and 14 additional days if a health emergency is declared.

“I introduced a bill with Sen. Patty Murray and others to guarantee sick leave for Americans,” he said from Washington. “We want people, if they think they’re ill, to stay home and not infect others.”

According to Kaine’s office, more than 25% of the American workforce does not have paid sick leave. In his Senate offices, the senator said he has doubled the amount of sick paid leave for employees so there would be no need to come in if under the weather, either because of coronavirus or other illnesses.

The bill would mandate paid sick leave, though Kaine said employers would have to front the costs that come with providing paid sick leave.

On Wednesday, Genworth Financial announced the temporary closure of its Lynchburg office after an employee with cold-like symptoms reported to work Tuesday. Workers at the company’s Hill City office will telework the rest of the week.

Kaine said his office will prepare to also telework. He’s organized a drill for his staff to take home laptops Thursday and do all work remote, including constituent services.

“I want to test the ability of my staff to work from home in case we need to in the future,” he said.

Measures like working from home can reduce the risk of spreading illness, but Kaine said he is also attempting to limit handshakes. It is difficult for the senator, who previously served as governor, lieutenant governor, and mayor.

“I’m trying to break the habit.”

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