WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — To contain the coronavirus, members of Congress want Americans to worry about their health, rather than their paycheck.
“You do not want an employee who is sick to feel like ‘Well, I don’t have paid sick leave, I guess I better come to work’ and then everybody else gets ill,” Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said.
Kaine and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner are pushing legislation providing emergency paid sick leave.
“We don’t know how long it will actually last, but we have to get resources out into the community,” Warner said.
The legislation would require all employers to allow workers seven days of paid sick leave and an additional 14 days in the event of a public health emergency, like the coronavirus crisis.
“Coming into a workplace, if you have been exposed or if you possibly have coronavirus, it could reach such havoc,” Kaine said.
“If people lose that job or miss that rent payment, the duration of the financial duress will be much much longer,” Warner said.
The extra sick days could also be used if an employer temporarily closes, if a child’s school closes, or if a family member is quarantined during a public health emergency.
Alex Baptiste, policy council with the National Partnership for Women and Families, says sick leave is vitally important to families, especially those living paycheck to paycheck.
“Paid sick days are so incredibly important because they’re not available just for the worker to take care of themselves, but also take care of their families,” Baptiste said.
Both Warner and Kaine are confident employers will support these efforts to help contain the disease.